Thursday 9 July 2020

Short Observations

  1. Short idea (35): Elephants are so big many people have trouble imagining they are emotionally vulnerable and sensitive and can feel fear, let alone dread and terror and agony.

  2. Short idea (130): "2 plus 2 = 4" may express an eternal truth, but adding 2 plus 2 is a mental operation that takes place in particular people at particular places and times. Thinking is an activity that uses up time, and it always occurs in a particular place. Thinking can be done out-loud or to oneself, with others or alone, while awake or while dreaming. Like all other activities, we think for reasons, and these reasons can be more or less conscious. And we can think too much or too little, and in a useful way or in a way that causes trouble for ourselves and/or others.

  3. Short idea (15): An experience of the whole, no matter how important and healing and tremendous it may feel, is, itself, only a minuscule and transitory piece of the whole.

  4. Short idea (189): We tend to believe "he was a good man": 1. If he was polite to us and 2. if he gave us things or helped us. If he was difficult with others it does not make as great and deep and lasting an impression on us as how he was with us.

  5. Short idea (69): Sensations are like the sounds of the individual instruments in an orchestra; Feelings are like the sound of the whole orchestra. A Sensation is like a moving picture of an individual leaf on a tree moving in the wind; A Feeling is like a moving picture of all the leaves (and the whole tree) moving in the wind.

  6. Short idea (87): If you cut off the head of a worm, the body goes on for a long time. It's pretty much the same with people. If you cut out our ability to think (maybe by some violent emotion), we can still eat and drink — and vote.

  7. Short idea (51): There may be a difference between what you think you value, what you want to value, what you tell others you value, what values you act in accordance with even though they are not your own, and what you value. It may not be until you are an old man or woman and have seen yourself react in many different situations that you become conscious whether you value this more than that or that more than this, when it comes right down to it. Sometimes it is only in extreme and unusual situations that we see what is really and truly important to us. What you value is connected with how you choose to behave, not just with how you picture yourself.

  8. Short idea (85): To the young, old age and death seem as unreal as a dream. To the old and dying, youth and life feel no different than last night's dreams.

  9. Short idea (170): Asthma, emphysema, and COPD are physical problems, but there is also a psychological side which is experienced as dissatisfaction and desperation in the deepest, most central, most personal spot in the ego. 

  10. Short idea (52): There is a difference between a decision you make inside your head while lying in bed and one your whole body makes after it gets up.

  11. Short idea (49):
    1) Psychological Suffering = Suffering.

    2) Psychological Suffering + Unconsciousness = Suffering x 2 (or possibly x 3).
    3) Psychological Suffering + Consciousness + Time + Quiet + X + ? = Peace + Calmness.

  12. Short idea (74): If you watch an horror movie and get anxious, and even feel some fear, this is real anxiety and real fear, but it is caused by events in the movie. What percent of all the anxiety and fear a person feels in life is caused by events in inner "movies"?

  13. Short idea (39): We can find ourselves in unfamiliar territory such as in another state or a foreign country, but we can also find ourselves in an unfamiliar inner state of mind. There are unfamiliar thoughts and feelings and images and impulses and dreams.

  14. Short idea (33): Everybody is normal. Some people are also abnormal. – This is a paradoxical way to put it, but I can't think of a clearer way. Implications: Abnormal people will begin to seem normal if you get to know them, and normal people may turn out to be abnormal. – You can use the same formula for “ordinary” and “extra-ordinary”: Everybody is ordinary; Some are also extra-ordinary; etc.

  15. Short idea (192): There are two political parties in the United States. Younger members of each party are sure they are right and members of the other party are wrong and maybe even evil. Older politicians may feel this but become more practical and are willing to compromise in order to get anything done. But there is a third position: Neither party is completely right but that each expresses a part of the truth. Compromise is not a process where good makes a deal with evil to get at least some good. Rather it is a struggle that leads, if it works, to incorporating the goodness and truths of both parties into a higher, more complete good and truth. This struggle can take centuries.

  16. Short idea (202): It is not necessary to have a philosophy of fear, anxiety, depression, and terror, but it is necessary to have a philosophy of the place of fear, anxiety, depression, and terror.

  17. Short idea (66): An educated man I know thinks the idea of "ghosts" is a primitive superstition. Last year his mother died. Recently he dreamed his mother and another dead relative came to him inquiring if he had taken care of the paper work required for them to move to another state or country. He said he had. Even in the waking state after this dream in which he dutifully carried out an obligation to the dead, he didn't think twice about looking down on and ridiculing those he heard saying they saw a ghost or communicated with the dead. How do you explain this apparent contradiction?

  18. Short idea (92): "God is in the Heavens." If you are thinking about God, and you are thinking of Him in the Heavens, you are doing this in one of two ways: 1) you are outside under the sky, actually looking up into the sky, and picturing Him up in the sky. Or, 2) you are inside, picturing Him, picturing the sky, and picturing Him in this pictured sky. For 1) you have to be outside, with eyes open, looking up at the sky. For 2), you can be inside, sitting in an easy chair, eyes closed, imagining the sky with God in it. There is such a big difference between 1) and 2) that I think people who think about God in the heavens in the second way may not be able to picture Him in the heavens the first way.

  19. Short idea (128): I was informed of a dream of someone's patient after the election of Pope Francis I. The dream proposed a riddle: "What do Tiger Woods and Pope Francis I have in common?" And the answer was also given in the dream: "They both breathe the same air and eat fish from the same oceans." I thought this dream was worth reporting.

  20. Short idea (131): To a vast degree, the world is not what we think or imagine or perceive or expect or want it to be.

  21. Short idea (121): There is an intoxication from alcohol or drugs, but there is also intoxication from ideas or ideals, or from beauty or love or success or power, or even from danger or food or sex. Some intoxication contains inspirations leading to wonderful things; others contain dangerous, even deadly, seductive delusions. However, whatever the content or cause, intoxication, in itself, can be a dangerous state for the person intoxicated and for those around him or her. It can turn into mania which can lead to exhaustion, ranting and raving, and other dangerous behaviors. (Jung called the danger "inflation.") Since the need for intoxication seems to be one of our basic needs, it must be indulged in with circumspection and in the right time and place. I think, perhaps, it is natural to spend about one seventh of our time in some inspired state. I get this from the idea of the Sabbath: From a psychological angle, I see the law to set one day a week (and no more) aside to be with the Lord as recognizing the human need for intoxication and as setting some boundaries to limit it.

  22. Short idea (100): People change all the time, like it or not. But there is much argument about whether or not "people can really change," change their personalities. Does psychotherapy lead to real and deep and profound changes or only some more or less temporary and more or less superficial changes of behavior? Psychological observation shows there is such a thing as a complete transformation of the personality. This is not the same thing as willing yourself to change your behavior or deciding not to focus on yourself so much or anything on this level. And it is not the belief that you have changed or a dream or fantasy that you are a new person. It involves a complete and total metamorphosis of the way we think, the way we feel about things, the content of our fantasy life, and a re-valuing of all our values (to use Nietzsche's term). It takes time. Some people say it feels as if they are being reborn.

  23. Short idea (177): It is continuously amazing to me how people can feel they are the greatest, when everyone else can see they are jackasses or fools. To be fair we have to include ourselves in this evaluation and be aware that we also, at the exact moment we feel we are at our best. are often being selfish and stupid and blind and weak. Just because a person feels good and thinks they are good doesn't mean they are. It is sobering to see what we are really.

  24. Short idea (196): Every person on earth, I would guess, is, by nature: 1) remarkable, 2) ordinary, and 3) inferior. Through work a fourth state can, if things go well, can be added, and this fourth state can be positive or negative depending on which direction the person exerts his or her energy.

  25. Short idea (27): Some psychologists such as James and Jung have distinguished between Active Thinking and Passive Thinking. Active Thinking is work, because it requires an expenditure of energy over time. And, like any work, it can exhaust.

  26. Short idea (61): The Jewish people, as a people, suffer from PTSD. This doesn't mean that every individual Jewish person has PTSD.

  27. Short idea (68): It is very important to Adapt. But to what? Definitely to other people, to the forces of nature, and so on. But also to our feelings, our thoughts, our pains, and to figures that appear in dreams and fantasies. What stands in the way of Adaptation? One thing is the denial of the existence of an experience, or, after recognizing its existence, the denial of its importance or significance.

  28. Short idea (201): We can injure ourselves while we are sleeping

  29. Short idea (141): People in cities understand daytime (and light) and its subtleties more than nighttime (and darkness) and its subtleties.

  30. Short idea (110): There are two ideas of psychological strength: first, if someone is anxious and tense, and they turn away from their psychological pain and push on to meet their obligations, this is considered, by one camp, to be psychological strength. The other idea is that, if someone is anxious and tense, and they turn inward towards their pain and face it and explore it and come to terms with it, that is considered, by the other camp, to be psychologically brave and strong. Often a husband will have one idea and a wife the other. It is not difficult to think of the conflicts that can arise from this configuration.

  31. Short idea (7): Feelings do not come labeled. Often we don't know what we are feeling and have to wait to find out. Other people may see and tell us. Or we may notice the effect of what we just said on someone and realize we must have been angry. Or we may get a call from a doctor we saw last week and realize all the feelings we have had in our body was nervousness. Or we may never find out. We may feel the feeling but not know what it is. And soon we may forget we are feeling anything. People can go their whole lives feeling tense, never relaxing, and never knowing it.

  32. Short idea (181): Whatever else is true about Empathy, it requires at least two psychological functions, feeling and imagination (and not just feeling). You have to be able to imagine what it is like to be going through what another is going through, and then you have to be able to respond with the same feeling you would have responded if you were going through it.

  33. Short idea (197): Things we like and enjoy can be bad for us, including some people we like and enjoy.

  34. Short idea (113): From a developmental point of view, I think that Sensation must have been the first adaptive psychological function to appear (every living cell senses — as do human infants). Imagination assumes Sensation and builds on it, and I think it must have been the second function to appear (dogs dream). Thinking assumes Imagination and Sensation and integrates them into itself, and, I think, it must have been the third of the functions to appear (language is needed for thinking; infants don't yet have language). Reflection, Evaluating, Moral and Ethical Reflection, and Planning integrate Sensation, Imagination, and Thinking, and I think it is the fourth function to arise and probably does not arise in everyone. Wisdom couldn't develop without being able to build on the previous four functions and there would also have to be character traits present such as courage. And, if there is any psychological function further along than Wisdom, perhaps some Unifying function, it would develop, if at all, only after everything else was in place and functioning.

  35. Short idea (167): Speaking as a psychotherapist, I guess that some school shootings and work-place shootings are irrational, incorrect, misguided, illegitimate, and immoral attempts to gain power, respect, and dignity.

  36. Short idea (152): An introspective exercise I did made me think that thinking is a branch of the imagination and that reason is a branch of thinking. However, it is just as possible that thinking and fantasy are offspring of the same parent (maybe the need to grasp the future). Or that they both come from the same root or need. Or that they are two forms of the same thing.

  37. Short idea (53): If a picture is worth a thousand words, then it is worth a million thoughts and feelings. If words are cheap, then ideas and feelings are worth next to nothing. If actions speak louder than words, then they drown out thoughts and feelings altogether.

  38. Short idea (166): Do animals have religious experiences (that is, numinous experiences, experiences of the sacred)? Do they have a sense of sacred space, sacred objects, and so on? — This is another way of asking if there is a religious instinct.

  39. Short idea (148): We all have good tendencies, and we all have bad tendencies. We all have saintly tendencies, and we all have evil tendencies. We all even have godly tendencies, and we all even have demonic tendencies. A tendency we have that isn't always good and can be evil or even demonic is to think we are being good or saintly or even godly when we are being bad or evil or even demonic.

  40. Short idea (93): To explore the idea of experience, it is useful, for a few minutes, to pretend that the following idea is true, even if it is false: Every experience you have is part of your body. Every sound you hear is part of your body. If you are driving a car and look out and see green grass and green and brown trees — and whatever you are currently looking at — this is all part of your body. Under this view, your body has different layers, to use an imperfect word. There is the visual layer, the sound layer, the skin layer, the muscle layer, the inner organ layers, the heart layer, the lung layer, and so on. Each embodies it's own unique type of experience. The central part of this idea is that there is a layer of sights and and a layer of sounds that are each part of your body but are experienced as outside of it — as outside the skin and what is inside the skin.

  41. Short idea (50): If you think nobody in the world cares about you, you have to be willing to look closely at the possibility that you don't care about anybody in the world. There is also the possibility that you are absorbed in a waking nightmare (in which nobody cares about you) and that you're not aware it's just a nightmare.

  42. Short idea (159): Almost everything that is happening has never been imagined by anyone.

  43. Short idea (84): If we make an analogy between the Imagination, Sensation, Need, and Thinking on the one hand and four rivers on the other, then there is a place where the rivers merge with each other and eventually form an ocean. Or, we can start with the idea of an ocean and picture the Imagination, Sensation, Need, and Thinking as four rivers that separate and flow out of it. — Without the ocean and its rivers we would all be dead. On the other hand, people often get swept away and drown in one of them. It's naive to forget the dangers of the rivers and the ocean and equally naive (and even fanatically suicidal) to try to get rid of them.

  44. Short idea (62): The average person in the United State knows about as much about Arab countries as he or she knows about the planets Jupiter or Neptune. It is probably vice versa also.

  45. Short idea (190): Knowledge and Power: 
    The Intellect thinks: "Knowledge is power."
    The Imagination, when it experiences Self-Knowledge in itself or in others, thinks: "Super-Power!"
    When the Imagination experiences Consciousness, it thinks: "Magic" or "God-like" or even "All-Powerful" ("Omnipotent") and "All-Knowing" ("Omniscient").
    [This observations grew out my wife, Adelle Hersh's, thought that it is both a blessing and responsibility to have self-knowledge.]

  46. Short idea (155): In every good marriage, at some point, the wife gives her husband an ultimatum. It can come in different forms, but, however presented, in tears or in anger, deep down, it is an ultimatum. If this ultimatum comes from the wife having reached her limits and not from a power complex, and if it is based on just and valid premises, and if the husband sees this and thinks he has been wrong and changes, either in actions or intentions or both, then the marriage can grow into a good one. Otherwise, not. Until then it is a baby marriage, naive and untested. 

  47. Short idea (40): If you want to examine worms or Sumerian clay tablets or other galaxies or the species of human beings in any one of its many aspects, there is a department in some college where you can go. But if you want to examine your own mind and study it, where is the college that has such a department?

  48. Short idea (125): There is obviously a world of difference between having $20 as all the money you have in the world and having $200 million in your banks. A person with $20 is very very different from someone with $200 million. There is at least one way, however, they are identical: They both have to count and watch and hold and spend wisely and spend well if they want to be responsible and good. The $20-aire has to count and watch and hold on to his or her pennies and spend them wisely and well; the $200 millionaire has to count and watch and spend wisely and well and hold on to his or her 10's of thousands, but both have to count and watch and spend wisely and well.

  49. Short idea (185): Hypothesis: Believing in a life after death is as instinctual as eating or breathing. No matter how silly the idea seems to our thinking, no matter how irrational, no matter how vague or self-contradictory, deep down we it is still there. It's as impossible to hold off the opposite belief too long as it is to hold your breath too long. You can hold it at bay for a while with your rational mind, but, as soon as you relax, the belief in a life after death, for yourself and others, grabs hold again.

  50. Short idea (103): A house can make sounds like those of a living creature. Some people, especially at night mistake these sounds for the sounds of living creatures entering their houses.

  51. Short idea (168): You can make two columns — one for all the things in life that are fun and one for all the things in life that are just work. For many people, as you get older and older, activities that were in the first column when you were younger have to be moved over to the second column. Towards the end of life, activities that were fun or so easy that they were barely noticed, like breathing or walking, can become labor and even labored.

  52. Short idea (154): Good Action along with periods of Silence and Aloneness can be a shield, a refuge, and a hospital for a weary, lost, bloody soul.

  53. Short idea (43): A good side of difficult experiences is how they peel off the surfaces of yourself. If you're a fan of self-knowledge, this is a plus. It creates a chance to catch a glimpse of things you don't and can't usually see. If the painful experiences are rooted deeply enough, they cast a new light on ordinary experience and behavior. This, in turn, can lead to the development of new adaptations.

  54. Short idea (138): Feelings can be thought of as like watercolor paints: They can stand alone, individually, or blend together. There are an infinite number of possible blends. You can have a specific feeling, and then a new one can come and mix with it, wholly or in part. Or the new one can become superimposed on the first in a transparent or opaque way. Or, like two side-by-side colors, if you have two "side-by-side" feelings, one can stand out and be brighter or more intense than the other and the other can be shadowy and vague and in the background. And so on.

  55. Short idea (47): Some experiences are too painful to remember. This doesn't mean they're gone.

    The first snow covers the grass.

    Soon we forget the grass.

    But it's still there.

  56. Short idea (109): Anything can become everything within a person's experience.

  57. Short idea (88): "The Great Mystery" — To many, these words are exciting, inspiring, and meaningful. To others, the idea of a Great Mystery is dangerously irrational and superstitious and agitates and angers them. What does this disagreement signify? One possibility is that it is a simple, intellectual disagreement and that one side is right and the other wrong. Another possibility is that there is a Great Mystery for some but not for others. It also may be that, for most people, those not at the extreme ends of the continuum, there are occasions when they sense a Great Mystery, whereas, at other times, they think the idea is a childish, naive wish.

  58. Short idea (156): Many people would be just as sad if there were only one religion as if there were only one type of food or one type of tree or one type of person.

  59. Short idea (145): One image of love that comes down to us from ancient times is of a cute little chubby infant, Cupid, shooting one of his tiny arrows into someone's heart. This image appears In paintings and on greeting cards and in T.V. advertisements selling gifts for happy lovers. But the image of Cupid shooting an arrow into an heart must have had different meaning for the ancients. We don't use bows and arrows for hunting or warfare, but they did. To be shot in the heart with an arrow would not have been thought by them to be a wonderful, happy experience.

  60. Short idea (174): A psychological metaphor: The Ego crystallizes from its substrate, the Self, and then dissolves back into it. It crystallizes again and then dissolves. It crystallizes again, and then dissolves .... But in one of these crystallizations it can solidify and harden. If this happens, it has to crack apart or be cracked apart to return to the Self until it crystallizes again. "Dissolving" is another word for "Relaxing," and "Solidifying" is another word for "Working."

  61. Short idea (89): Say there is a king who is a great man, and he has a servant. This doesn't mean that the servant is a great man (or even a great servant).

  62. Short idea (12): A human relation is like a weaving or a web; it can be torn or broken, and then it needs to be mended which involves work.

  63. Short idea (99): The Imagination usually does not come clothed in the words "I am your Imagination at work here." Usually it comes with words like: "So and so is trying to hurt me!" or "What a wonderful thing this is!" or "He is a prince of a man!" or "She is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen!"

  64. Short idea (153): There are many reasons to have censorship in movies. For example, it can be awful to see abuse and killing in films, and many would like a censor to keep these things out of what we and our children see. One reason not to censor is that films are an expression of the psyche and soul of a people. In this way they are like dreams, and like dreams, they probably have a balancing function. If you could censor dreams, the individual might become unbalanced. Also, films can be used to monitor what is going on in the collective psyche. This monitoring can give sensitive people a window into the future of a nation, into what is about to happen, and it gives some time to prepare. Censoring, whatever its value, takes away this mirror.

  65. Short idea (158): I can think of 5 roots of anxiety: Ignorance, Knowledge, Cowardice, Attachment, and Chemical Interactions.

  66. Short idea (198): To argue that evil doesn't exist because all it is, is the absence of good (privatio bono) is parallel to arguing that death doesn't exist because all it is, is the absence of life.

  67. Short idea (38): For many, the things they are most proud of when they are doing them are the very same things they are most ashamed of when they reflect on them later.

  68. Short idea (48): Psychological pain is always an opportunity to learn about our illusions; about where our feelings are registered in our bodies; about our bloated or otherwise incorrect self-images; about our unreasonable and immature expectations; about our obsolete, un-honed, imprecise, conflicting, or superficial values.

  69. Short idea (96): The logic and geometry of experiences is different from the logic and geometry necessary to get through everyday life in public. Here is an experiment in introspection the reader can do to see what I mean: Focus on a sensation deep within your body. Now focus on one on the surface of your skin. Now focus on a visual sensation somewhere outside your body. Now focus on a far away sound, as far away as possible. Now try to focus on outer space, space past our Milky Way galaxy, the furthest part of space there is. Now ask yourself where this last experience took place. I think you will find that the experience of outer space, if you had it at all, was a combination of thoughts and images within your own head. So, typical of the laws of logic and geometry for experiences, outer space was outside your body, beyond sights you were seeing and sounds you were hearing, but, at the same time, it was inside your head. — If you want to explore your own experiences, you have to get used to this kind of twist.

  70. Short idea (116): From a psychological point of view there are thousands, probably hundreds of thousands of religions besides the five or six major religions. If religion can be compared to vessels on an ocean, the major religions are like giant ocean liners — like the Queen Mary or the aircraft carriers. The smaller religions are like lifeboats or submarines or tugboats or schooners or houseboats or barges or ferries or fishing boats or rowboats. Some religions are one man (or one woman) boats, big enough for one person only. Of these one man boats, some people make their own which is not easy. Psychologists often see patients who are struggling to make such a one man kayak or canoe. I suppose the ideal is to set out and swim free, without any boat, but that feels almost — almost — unfathomable, inconceivable; at least it is sink or swim.

  71. Short idea (199): Many people are running towards something and also running away from something, and they feel they will die if they stop running. Sometimes they are right, sometimes wrong, and sometimes they will die if they keep running.

  72. Short idea (108): There are people who object to religion with their intellects; the ideas of religion don't seem rational to them; they strike them as superstitions. But there are other parts of a person's psyche that can have a negative reaction to religion. A person's emotions and feelings may be jarred by one or more religious practices, or a religious practice can jar a person's value system. Even a person's imagination can rebel against religion: it is possible to have one's own images of how the world was created and so on. I think the body too can react negatively to some thing or things in a religion. If all these parts of a person object all together, the person is, for all practical purposes, no longer involved in the religion in any deep way. The person will have to turn elsewhere for answers to the deepest questions.

  73. Short idea (194): Mania and Anxiety can be seen as forms of increased psychological Energy (Libido), that is, excitement. Each can be taken as the opposite of Relaxation.

  74. Short idea (78): There are two psychological states, A (withdrawn) and B (involved). One's self = A + B. It is only while in A that a person can learn about A, about B, and, therefore, about A + B. While in B there is too much activity, and so no time to look at B. Yet to know about oneself it is not enough to know only A. A has to look out at B and examine it as well. — Further, no one can be in A and B at the same time. It is probably impossible to be good without knowing oneself, which requires A. It is impossible to be good while in A. A good person must act in B based on what is learned in A.

  75. Short idea (180): If there are deep truths and generalizations about the best ways to live, each person must find them him or herself.

  76. Short idea (132): Every family struggles with psychological problems to some degree (just as every family struggles with physical or economic problems to some degree). It is a matter of degree.

  77. Short idea (91): There's a parallel between the passion of sex and and the passion of anger. I think almost every human being in the world would agree that there should be some limitation and restraint on the expression of sexual impulses and angry impulses (both for themselves and for others). It would be impossible for all humans to agree on just where the lines should be drawn, but pretend we all could agree. Pretend we all went to a big conference and could all agree that people, from now on, can express their sexual and angry impulses up to a certain boundary line but no further, that certain sexual and angry behaviors are totally unacceptable. Then, we might also agree that, as long as people do not step over the lines, everyone is free to express their sexual and angry impulses any way they see fit in accordance with their own individual styles. The points I am making are: 1) every human being has sexual and angry impulses; 2) every human being has to limit them; 3) every human being needs to express them in some way; 4) and people have just as much variation in their preferred ways of controlling and expressing their anger as they do in their preferred ways of controlling and expressing their loving feelings.

  78. Short idea (149): Over the last few years I have spent a lot of time thinking about the psychology of Anxiety. If I had to sum up my thoughts at this point in time about what is Anxiety I would say: Anxiety = Future. 

  79. Short idea (137): A tentative psychological idea: There are two kinds of people: those who are too anxious and those who aren't anxious enough. A person is either one or the other. If a person could choose his or her type with respect to how they worry, they would have to choose between being a worry wart or a naive babe in the woods. It must be added that people often don't worry about the things they should be worrying about.

  80. Short idea (95): Every experience has a "tail," which is to say that a piece of every experience lingers on after the experience is over. For example, the experience of being in a severe thunder storm lingers after the storm is gone. The alertness, the feelings of fear and/or awe, etc. Tails can last a few seconds, a few minutes, a few hours, days, weeks, months, years, and even for a whole life-time. As you get older you accumulate more and more of these permanent tails, and all new experiences you have are filtered through them. The thicker the web of old tails, the less of each new experience will get through, and, gradually, new experiences will all come to feel pretty much the same, have the same flavor, as it were. Experience will become stale.

  81. Short idea (75): In the following I use a flute as an example, but I could have used any thing: It is difficult to stay clear about the difference between the sound of a flute (gotten from hearing), the sight of a flute (gotten from vision), the feel of a flute (gotten from touch), the memory of the sound or sight of a flute, the image or sound of a flute in ones imagination, the idea or concept of a flute (from thinking), the desire to own a flute or see a flute or hear a flute, and a flute.

  82. Short idea (182): Relaxation is not a "Yes" or "No" thing; it's not that we are either relaxed or not. Relaxation and Tension are two poles of a continuum with an innumerable number of possible positions. There are  degrees of relaxation and degrees of tension.

  83. Short idea (23): Mattress ads claim that the reason a person sleeps badly is because of the mattress, and, if you use their mattresses, you will sleep perfectly. It is the springs or the stuffing or whatever. This is a good example of an attempt to explain a psychological state of unrest or discomfort by reference to a thing or event in the external world.

  84. Short idea (135): It is correct to say that, at any moment, we have five senses (some say six or seven) that are functioning to get information about the environment in which we live. It is equally true that, at any moment, we have one overall sensibility or sensorium which we can, if we want, analyze into sights and sounds and tastes and feelings which we can label as inside us or outside.

  85. Short idea (2): Take anything on the earth or in the heavens or in the seas: There is someone who could become interested in learning about it. Whether it is a rainbow or the rhyming system of certain poems or ancient Sumerian palaces or how to fix a toilet or the mating habits of Sumatran elephants or the cost of pine nuts from China or the composition of dust or how children learn to spell. So it is no wonder that there are some people who are interested in learning about themselves.

  86. Short idea (195): There are beautiful ideas and there are true ideas. Occasionally we find a beautiful idea that turns out to be true. And, occasionally, we stumble across a true idea that we come to see is very beautiful.

  87. Short idea (58): The call to psychology (to know yourself) is: "Stop! ... Stop more! ... Stop everything! ... Stop completely! ... Stop now!" — When everything stops, one's self comes into view (like it or not).

  88. Short idea (64): I see the human Imagination as a step forward in evolution. It is a tool for learning new things, for acquiring new inspirations and intuitions, and for testing new behaviors without ever having to get out of bed. On the other hand, it is fragile and extremely fallible and must be handled very very carefully. It is too easy to fall into it, thinking it is reality.

  89. Short idea (119): We all feel filled with Energy sometimes, bursting with Energy; at other times listless and sluggish and filled with inertia. This feeling of Energy has a psychological label: Libido (sometimes "Libido" is used to refer to all psychological energy, sometimes only to sexual energy). If we look at objects in the physical world we can often see what fills them with energy. For example, a moving object hits one that is still, and the second objects moves, filled with the energy transferred from the first object. It is not so easy to see what fills us with the feeling of Energy or takes away the feeling. If we do see what does, it is difficult to understand how this can happen. For example, how can bad news make us feel all the Energy draining from us? We may be able to picture how a virus could take the wind out of our sails, but how can hearing bad news do it?

  90. Short idea (123): The ongoing argument between Creationists and Evolutionists assumes either we are descendants from the apes or we have not evolved from apes. There is a third possibility: that we are apes.

  91. Short idea (55): Learning and Knowledge are not always good. It depends on what people learn and what they do with the knowledge.

  92. Short idea (65): Even in a dream there is left and right, near and far, inside and outside, ordinary and awesome. When the dreamer wakes up, there is also a left and right, near and far, inside and outside, etc. It's difficult to describe the difference. This is partly because it's difficult to compare the two. And this is partly because it's difficult or impossible to be in both states at the same time.

  93. Short idea (120): If you think brain activities underlie all our thoughts, our feelings, our actions, and so on, here is a paradox: I can influence your brain (say through my words to you), and you can influence mine, but it seems impossible for me to influence my own brain or for you to influence yours. Why? Because if you think you are doing something to influence your own brain (maybe telling yourself happy words to make your brain have a different chemistry), it is your brain making you want to do the thing in the first place, it is your brain that lies behind your actually doing it, and it is your brain that causes you to be aware you are doing it. Similarly, if a man is strong enough and big enough, maybe he could lift any human being on earth, but he could never lift himself.

  94. Short idea (160): What we believe is different from what we think we believe.

  95. Short idea (1): In psychology, as in war (and as in life in general) there are no experts. Some psychologists have a lot more experience than others. These are the wily veterans, more familiar with the up's and down's of "the battlefield" than the greenhorns — but they are not expert in the way people who use Microsoft Word or tie bow ties or dice vegetables or solve calculus problems can become expert.

  96. Short idea (126): Here is a powerful idea I heard that I think is an exaggeration with some little truth in it, though you may have a different opinion: All suffering that remains unconscious becomes a physical illness. If the suffering is the private suffering of one individual, the individual will get a physical illness. If it is the suffering of a country, people all over the country will get sick. If the unconscious suffering is of all the people in the world, people all over the whole world will get sick. If the unconscious suffering is deep enough, painful enough, and unconscious enough, the resulting physical sickness is a fatal one.

  97. Short idea (193): If you believe that there is a religious instinct, then atheism will be viewed as a form of neurosis. It can be seen as a form of hysteria (possibly conversion hysteria) in which one whole chunk of reality is denied.

  98. Short idea (36): Devastating experiences make a person feel closer to those who have been through similar experiences and distant and separate from those who haven't. Losing a child separates a person from most other people; losing an old parent makes one feel part of the natural flow.

  99. Short idea (124): Even old wise men can have delusions, even many delusions.

  100. Short idea (165): Two Provisional (and condensed) Definitions: 1) Humility = Self-Knowledge + Knowledge of the Future. 2) Arrogance = Ignorance. Axiom: The more self-knowledge you have and the more knowledge of the future you have, the greater humility you have.

  101. Short idea (5): Some have, as the whole goal of their lives, to come out of their shells and to enter the world and to venture out and to live and experience and achieve. Others have, as their goal, to retreat from the world, to dampen and tone down their experience, to withdraw from new experiences, to filter out much of the incoming stimuli, to protect themselves. The same person can have the opposite goal at different times, even at different times of the same day.

  102. Short idea (16): Everything you experience is real, but not everything is real in the same way:  Some things are useful and substantial and important to you; others are dangerous; others are pale reflections, elusive and amorphous and hard to describe and maybe fleeting and unrepeatable and useless; others mislead you like a delusion that comes into the head while lying in bed on a long Winter's night.

  103. Short idea (21): Everything passes including the awareness that everything passes.

  104. Short idea (117): Whatever journey each one of us is on we can't slow it down, but we can't speed it up either.

  105. Short idea (19): Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and Emily Dickinson were opposites: De Saint-Exupéry never had a home; Dickinson never left hers.

  106. Short idea (101) : Psychologically speaking, sometimes the only way out is in. At other times, the only way to penetrate deep inside oneself is to go outside and get lost in the world.

  107. Short idea (26): The Israelites thought it was a miracle when the Red Sea closed over the Egyptian army. But, when the Egyptians back home heard the story, they would not have thought it was a miracle. The escape of the hare is a miracle to the hare but a curse to the fox and his family. Current day Israelis and Egyptians hear the story with different ears.

  108. Short idea (94): Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, according to Lord Acton. In our day, with our microscopic focus on human motivation, we might look at it even more cynically. Human nature is already corrupt, but most humans don't have the power to act it out. Fear keeps most of us in check. Give us power, and we let go. Give us absolute power, and look out. — On the other hand, we know there are other, more positive forces working in us, and, in some of us, they hold sway no matter what.

  109. Short idea (37): The trouble in describing the deeper levels of the psyche objectively is that there is a tendency either 1) to water them down (because the experiences are so dramatic you don't want to sound crazy) or 2) to over-dramatize them (in a desperate attempt to express how surprising and remarkable they feel) or 3) to fall under their spell and become subject to their ways of viewing things and of speaking (which is to give up all attempts at objectivity).

  110. Short idea (4): In the night: the eyes close, the outer recedes (but does not disappear completely), and the inner comes to the fore. In the morning: the eyes open, the inner recedes (but does not disappear completely), the outer comes to the front. The inner and the outer are in a relation, and, together, they make a whole.

  111. Short idea (97): An altar is a focal point for attention, and it is made to focus attention. A little girl dies and a mother makes a little altar at a spot in a room and places a cross on it, the child's favorite ribbon, and a picture. The altar focuses the mother's attention (and is made to focus her attention) on these things. The things help her remember, and to remember in a positive way, and so to counteract the grief and terror of the loss. Not only can the mother sit in front of the altar, but, wherever she is, she knows the altar is where she left it; and she knows the moves she must make to get back to it; and this, by itself, makes her feel a little better. Creating the altar is an unconscious process and can't be contrived. It happens as everything in nature happens.

  112. Short idea (54): Being decisive is not always good. With some people it's better if they never make up their minds. If you're getting ready to do something bad, we pray you will waiver.

  113. Short idea (25): There are two types of people. One type thinks they're really something. The other type thinks they aren't anything much. People who think they're something are surprised when they realize they will die. Those who think they're nothing special may be surprised when they realize they're alive.

  114. Short idea (178): The only way not to have expenses and expenditures is to be dead.

  115. Short idea (150): Following his quadruple bypass heart surgery, former president, Bill Clinton, was interviewed by Diane Sawyer on October 28, 2004 for her program, Primetime Live. President Clinton spoke about his changed values with respect to the political "game," and he added, "I thought, you know, you've been given an unknown but substantial amount of extra time. And you should give it back. So, that's what I'm going to try to do.” On the one hand, it is nice that he has had some sort of conversion to wanting to devote his life to helping people. On the other hand, it would be nice to think of all presidents, including him, as being devoted to this during their presidencies.

  116. Short idea (63): We make decisions all day long, but only a few are made consciously. Decisions pile up. Over the years we have piles and piles of them lying around. One day we turn around and look at them. It can be a shock, like looking in the mirror and seeing that your hair has turned white. You've looked in the mirror every day but never quite saw yourself this way. However, in peering at the sum of what you've chosen, you aren't seeing how you now appear, but who you now are.

  117. Short idea (118): Psychotherapists learn quickly that people who appear good are almost never as good as they appear, and people who appear bad are rarely ever as bad as they appear.

  118. Short idea (86): When good people become bad, they often become very very bad, and when bad people become good, they often become very very good.

  119. Short idea (179): It is only when it feels that all is lost that the self can emerge.

  120. Short idea (9): "Going along with others" versus "Getting along with others."

  121. Short idea (59): If you have a camera whose pictures are getting more and more inaccurate — this is a good metaphor for getting old. Decaying tools can cause problems. There are additional problems if you don't know your tools are decaying. And still more problems when you insist to others that everything's fine when everyone can see it isn't.

  122. Short idea (176): If you are the type of person who is devoted to thinking, it is probable that you are not the type of person who continually tries to balance your feeling state in order to feel as good as you can feel. And vice versa: If you are constantly monitoring your feelings and sensations to adjust them to their optimal state, it will be almost possible for you to be what is called "a thinker." All your thought and energy will be devoted to adjusting your feelings.

  123. Short idea (20): The same door can look different from inside and from outside depending, in part, on our moods. However it looks at any given moment, it is important that it be well balanced, with oiled hinges, and with a strong lock.

  124. Short idea (46): An abusive episode is like a tornado. Once it passes there is a calm just like on any other day. The only sign of what happened is what is left behind. — The weather is normal 99.9% of the time. Then along comes a tornado and kills a lot of people.

  125. Short idea (45): There is physical abuse, intellectual abuse, religious abuse, emotional abuse, and abuse where one person browbeats and tyrannizes another person with tastes or values. Physical abuse is probably the most painful. (I say probably.)

  126. Short idea (129): For every single problem, there is always a solution, and there is always at least one good and right way to solve it and one wrong and bad way.

  127. Short idea (90) : Dying is not death. It is an experience (or ongoing experiences) within life. It often involves a long series of "Goodbye's."

  128. Short idea (56): Knowing thyself is a means, not an end. Unexamined lives may not be worth living, but it doesn't mean examined lives are. Knowing you're a jerk isn't enough; you have to do something about it. But what and how?

  129. Short idea (17): An agitated, angry moment; an ecstatic, happy feeling; an itch in the right knee; a dream of a red fox walking in the snow; a thought of tomorrow's barbecue — all are made of the same "stuff." There is a common denominator.

  130. Short idea (142): It is helpful for psychologists to think of some families as cults. The leader (often the father) is experienced as God and his wishes are experienced as divine law. Conflicts can develop when family cult law conflicts with civil law. In such cases, families are mini-religions.

  131. Short idea (77): "If only I had listened to her (or him)!" is a thought I have had many times. But I have also had the opposite thought: "I shouldn't have listened to her (or him)! I should have listened to myself!" Based on this, sometimes I should listen to others, and sometimes I should listen to myself. It would be nice to have a rule to tell when to do one and when to do the other, but I haven't found one.

  132. Short idea (31): Having a positive First Impression of something is different from judging it to be Good. You can often tell immediately if you like something. If you begin not to like it after a week or a month, you say, “It turned out to be no Good in spite of my early impressions." Whether or not something's Good for the whole world may take a hundred or a thousand or ten thousand or even a hundred thousand years to tell. If something turns out to be Bad, then it was just a Fad. A fad can last for a hundred thousand years.

  133. Short idea (175): Anger is a way of holding things at arm's length, of isolating oneself from what you are angry at. We know the negative sides of this distancing for oneself and for others, but a positive function is that it seems to be a necessary step in thinking; it is pre-condition of observing and analyzing.

  134. Short idea (105): In some ways, Heisenberg's ideas can be applied to consciousness: when we try to "observe" our own conscious experiences, the act of trying to observe them changes them or even destroys them. The reason this happens is different from why, according to Heisenberg, our attempts to observe sub-atomic particles change them. Speaking metaphorically, we are embedded in our conscious experiences, absorbed in them. In order to inspect them, we have to pull out of them, and this pulling out, this distancing ourselves from them, is part of what changes or destroys them.

  135. Short idea (107): I think psychology could (and should) be a meeting ground for all religions, a common ground. The deepest religious experiences are experiences, vague perceptions of the deepest levels of our psyches, and can, I think, be taken as psychological perceptions. Here are five explanatory points: 1) Religious dogma is not the same as living religious experience. 2) My view implies that no religion has exclusive access to reality; each is a different window into reality. 3) Religion should not feel in competition with science or with other religions; they are all searching for reality. 4) Religion is not "primitive superstition" but an attempt to express truths that are difficult to express in ordinary language. 5) Religion should be viewed as bringing to light new areas for scientific research; it should not feel pushed into standing against science in order to defend the objective territory it knows it has found and knows it has been exploring for millennia, often heroically.

  136. Short idea (18): What can be done in a minute? – Here are some things: certain complete conversations, brushing of teeth, driving about 1/4 mile on a dirt road, feeding a dog, ...

  137. Short idea (184): For those interested in experience, there are at least two variables to consider. First is the variety of experience, and this is achieved by living fully. The second is the nature of any individual experience, and this is understood through introspection and meditation.

  138. Short idea (169): Regarding which mattress is the most comfortable: When you are tense and troubled, no mattress feels comfortable.

  139. Short idea (13): There is a difference between the mind, the psyche, and the self. Mind has to do with thinking and imagination. Psyche includes the mind. And the self includes the psyche.

  140. Short idea (102): Everyone has two sides, but only one side comes out and shows at a time. Some people show one side more than the other, and other people show the other side more often. But all people have both sides.

  141. Short idea (10): In every conversation there are things unstated and un-statable. In every thought process there is something unthinkable. There are things we aren't grasping, can't grasp, and never will be able to grasp — no matter how confident and optimistic we are feeling at any particular moment.

  142. Short idea (80): Smoking and being a jerk are similar in many ways. They are both addictions that are hard to kick. Still, each can be given up by a simple choice even if this is only after years of denying there is a problem in the face of everyone else saying there is. The choice often comes after some "revelation" that the behavior is not good for oneself or for loved ones. And, like all addictions, there is a period of withdrawal and maybe of back falling and of longing to return to the old, easier way. — Being a jerk, I think, is rooted deeper in the personality and requires more than a change in behavior to understand and uproot completely.

  143. Short idea (134): Just as there are people who are stronger than me and people who are smarter than me and people who have more money than I do, there are also people who are morally better than me. And the same goes for you.

  144. Short idea (172): Linear (or active) Thinking is a chain or line of thought in which we use thoughts to solve a problem. Associative (or passive) Thinking is a line or chain or thoughts linked together by previous associations. Both Linear and Associative are step by step processes with each link in the chain, each point on the line, connected to the previous one by an understandable connection. There is another type of thought that we might call Archetypal in which an idea "pops into ones head," and it seems completely unconnected with any previous thought. It "came out of no where," as it were, "out of the blue." If, on examining a new archetypal thought, it does seem connected with ones previous thoughts at all, it seems more as if it is an observation or commentary or insight about the line of thought that came before. It may seem as if it came from outside oneself, almost as if it was the point of view of another, often more intelligent and wiser, person.

  145. Short idea (115): Alfred North Whitehead said that all European philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato. Plato lived roughly 2,500 years ago and Freud lived roughly 100 years ago, but, to paraphrase Whitehead, I would say that all psychology, including all American psychology, has been a series of footnotes to Freud. — I say this even though I am not a Freudian.

  146. Short idea (42): "He knows his own mind!" — This can mean, "He knows his own tastes" (he differentiates his tastes from the group's taste); "He knows his own thoughts"; "He knows his own beliefs"; "He knows his own values"; "He knows his own view of further out things;" and so on.

  147. Short Idea (24): There is the god of the Jews, the god of the Arabs, the god of the Christians (the son of the Jewish god), the gods of the Babylonians, and the like. Each people has its god. Is there a god that is the god of all peoples?

  148. Short idea (147): It is easy to have bad motives and to try to cover them over with warm smiles and expressions of care and concern and with promises to always be helpful. So it is possible to be doing very bad things and to appear like an angel. We all fall for this. It is also possible to be doing very good things and not to care at all about how you look. You can be so involved in doing this good thing that you forget about others around you, and they can think you are selfish and self-centered and short-tempered and bad. We all make the mistake, at times, of thinking people are being bad when they are really being very good.

  149. Short idea (70): There are unknown events going on inside and outside our bodies that, at this very moment, are shaping our futures.

  150. Short idea (151): Last week there was a video on the Internet from Australia that was receiving a lot of hits. It was of a life and death struggle between a pond python and a crocodile. The fight lasted over four hours. The python won and wound up eating the crocodile. I think that unless a person knows what it must have felt to have been the croc and what it must have felt like to be the python, he or she is lacking a significant chunk of self-knowledge.

  151. Short idea (3): "Everybody is a moon, with a dark side never to be seen by others." — Mark Twain. This was true when Mark Twain was alive, but now psychology gives us ways of seeing the dark sides of ourselves and others — if and when we want to.

  152. Short idea (133): If a person's goal is power, then winning feels good (even if he or she is seriously wounded in the process). However, if a person's goal is to be good, then winning will feel bad (as well as good), because it brings with it responsibilities (that is, responsibilities to the ones who have lost to you).

  153. Short idea (8): Everybody has to be inside sometimes and outside sometimes. There is a door that separates the inside from the outside. Some walk easily, back and forth, through the door. Others have to be dragged in and/or out, screaming. And, for others, the door is jammed, and, to get them in and out, a wall has to be broken down.

  154. Short idea (60): Success can serve as an anesthetic for the suffering that comes from peering into the deeper levels of reality.

  155. Short idea (183): People say "Relax!" but this assumes that it is in our power to relax. A Jewish prayer says, "Grant us Peace, Thy Most Precious Gift, Oh Thou Eternal Source of Peace" (Union Prayer Book II). If we think of the word "peace" as being an ancient word for what we now call "relaxation," the prayer implies that we can not relax, that we can not choose to relax, that we can not do something to make ourselves relax. It is not up to us. At this point in my life, I would say I agree, though with some reservation. 

  156. Short idea (98): In colleges in the U.S. we are trained to see Imagination and the Intellect as inherently at war. I think it is more useful, and probably more accurate, to focus on the possibility of them cooperating and on what they have in common. After all, they are part of the same organism and probably developed with the same goal, that is, the adaptation of the organism. I think they have a common source, and images are part of thinking. The two are like two gangling beasts who are married and who are constantly stumbling over each other and who often get into conflicts but who, deep down, still love each other, or, at least, should learn to get along.

  157. Short idea (22): Imagine that every single religious architectural structure in the world was destroyed. And that it became illegal to be a teacher of religion and even to talk about religion. And that there was a way of implementing these laws, so there was never again a religious structure, a religious custom, or even a religious idea that ever appeared in public. Some people would say this would make the world a better place; others would say it would be a disaster for the world. The question for the psychologist is, "Is there a religious instinct in us that can not be eradicated no matter what we might do to try?"

  158. Short idea (32): I have developed a method for thinking about minor problems. I withdraw into myself, and wait for a clear and illuminating impression to come. Of all the clear and illuminating ideas I have had, I estimate about 15% have been useful to me or to others. “Clear and Illuminating” is not the same as “True and Useful.”

  159. Short idea (114): Frederich Nietzsche famously said, "What doesn't kill me makes me stronger." This is now the title of a popular country song in the United States. Hard to believe, but true. The irony is that the beautiful and inspiring idea that has come into the minds of so many people who are suffering was not true of Nietzsche himself; he got weaker and weaker over time. 

  160. Short idea (34): If you rely on people being unreliable, you won't get as angry as if you assume everybody is reliable. (But many people really are reliable much of the time.)

  161. Short idea (81): I was raised in an environment where it was considered a problem if a child preferred being alone. It was understood as a fear of others, and the child was encouraged to overcome the shyness and "be more social" and "try to make friends." Preferring to be alone was seen as an escape from others, from the natural inclination to be with others. But it also happens that being with others can be an escape from being with ones own thoughts and feelings and the figures that appear in ones dreams and fantasies. Not everything frightening lies without. Not everything good lies without.

  162. Short idea (144): One type of injury, like a cramp, can be helped by exercising it and by not giving in to it. Another type, like certain sprains, require the opposite. These require immobilization and no movement and are dependent on time to heal. It may be that sometimes these never heal; the best you can hope for here is to learn to compensate, to learn what movements to avoid aggravating the injury. There are also these same two types of psychological wounds and the same two types of psychological healing.

  163. Short idea (157): You can't trust anyone completely or count on anyone completely — not even yourself. This can be a hard fact to swallow and adjust to.

  164. Short idea (28): Regarding the psychology of Place: the most important thing is Where you are and Where you're not. Here versus There.

  165. Short idea (164): The nursery rhyme, Humpty Dumpty, can be used to illustrate a psychological point. Once the big egg fell and cracked and broke, all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put him back together again. We are like this, psychologically. We start whole, but then we fall and crack up and break, and then nothing can put us back together again. We long to be whole again. Is it possible?

  166. Short idea (161): Memory is a skill.

  167. Short idea (71): First come the explorers, then the map makers. Each child is an unexplored continent (or world or universe). A person who becomes interested in self-discovery and wants it to be useful has to become both explorer and map-maker.

  168. Short idea (14): You are driving on a winding, icy mountain road in a blizzard. You are struggling to see enough to stay on the road and in your lane. There are five cars behind you. They have it easier than you; They can keep their distance and follow the tail lights of the car in front of them. Some in the cars behind are impatient. — Moral: if someone seems slow, it may be because they are weak or infirm or old or meandering, but it also may be that they are making an all out attempt to find their way on treacherous ground we will all be entering.

  169. Short idea (200): Perhaps the most seductive things in the world are words — including the words that come into your head. 

  170. Short idea (30): For whatever it's worth: I've come to believe that either there are two realities or one reality with two "faces." I prefer the second. If true, then one face appears in our dreams, and the other appears when we wake up.

  171. Short idea (67): Some people believe there is a Secret to Life that will enable them to handle any problem if they can find it and learn it. Some who believe there is such a Secret think they can learn it in school; others think they can learn it from a wise person; and others think they can find it in themselves, but they all believe that such a Secret exists somewhere and that they can find it. Others think the belief in such a Secret to Life is just a wish and a fantasy.

  172. Short idea (111) : There are four kinds of hurts. Hurts administered by an enemy, hurts administered by a friend, hurts administered by ourselves, and imaginary hurts. Each requires a different kind of response. 

  173. Short idea (44): I think everybody has been abused by someone or other, to some degree or other, in some way or other, at some time or other. I think everybody has abused someone or other, to some degree or other, in some way or other, at some time or other. Abuse is not everything and everywhere, but it is part of life.

  174. Short idea (29): When a person withdraws from the world as much as she or he can, what's left is Psychology, that is, the psyche.

  175. Short idea (104): People do the worst things when they think they're right. They can do even worse things when they know they're right.

  176. Short Idea (41): If Moses had decided never to come down from Mt. Sinai and to stay forever with the Lord, we might not have learned we shouldn't steal or kill or disrespect our parents.

  177. Short idea (162): To our Sense of Time, a moment can seem a lifetime, and a lifetime can seem a moment.

  178. Short idea (57): "Seek the truth," they say, but is that enough? Mustn't we then catch a glimpse of it, and then aim towards it and try to grasp it, and then learn to hold on to it and then to handle it and to clarify it and refine it and absorb it and digest it, and also to carve it into something beautiful and useful to ourselves and others?

  179. Short idea (82): Certainly it can be cowardly to run away from someone you are afraid of. The psychologist recognizes that it can be just as cowardly to run away from someone in a dream you are afraid of.

  180. Short idea (72): For many people, one of the most difficult things, psychologically, is to accept the feeling of uncertainty.

  181. Short idea (163): More important to me than coming up with a psychological diagnosis (from the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistic Manual, 5th Edition) is to answer the question whether or not the patient can get better and how.

  182. Short idea (106): Everyone has two sides to one degree or another. There is the normal, sane side and the wild, crazy side. People feel good when they manage to let out the wild, crazy side in a normal, sane way. They feel bad if they never are able to let it out or if it bursts out in a wild and crazy way.

  183. Short idea (11): An interesting thought a violent schizophrenic patient told me many years ago: "I like to think that everyone has the same amount of suffering they have to experience in their lives. For some it is spread out, and, for others, most of it comes all at once, but we all have the same amount of suffering."

  184. Short idea (173): Some mythic stories can be understood, among other things, as attempts to present psychological states of mind that are difficult (or even impossible) to describe or present in ordinary language. An example is an American Indian story that tells about a man who was picked up off the ground and blown far away from his home by a great wind. When he landed he became a great healer. The whole story is one big metaphor.

  185. Short idea (186): Seeing is a power. Seeing "below the surface" is a great power.

  186. Short idea (127): Freud and Jung disputed over whether dream images were signs (of something else) or symbols. I wonder if it isn't possible that dream images and, actually, each and every thing, is both a sign and a symbol at the exact same time. Every thing is a sign of other things; every thing is also a symbol. Every thing
    1) is
    2) is linked to other things
    and 3) points beyond itself to things in the future and to things in the past.

  187. Short idea (146): Every century is unique. Every decade is unique. Every year is unique. Every day is unique. Every moment is unique. Every thing is unique. Every event is unique. For example, every breath is unique. It is also true that we often feel that everything is the same, tedious, and boring and that nothing ever changes.

  188. Short idea (191): There are certain moments when we can become aware of the intimate connection between the Mind and the Body and the World around us. One is when we take an in breath. Another is when we feel our heart beat. Another is when we have a sexual response. Another is when we get furious. And another is when we feel an intense pain. Another is when we see or hear. And so on.

  189. Short idea (139): I am sympathetic with those who speak of an inner and an outer world, but this way of speaking leads to needless complications. I think it is less confusing to say there are two ways to experience the world: inner and outer. — There is an inner way of experiencing something and an outer way.

  190. Short idea (112): It is an interesting psychological hypothesis (not a theological hypothesis) that the search for God involves the search for the self (finding God involves finding oneself). It would go the other way too: The search for the self would be, deep down, also a search for what people call, "God." This doesn't mean, necessarily that God = Self, just that the search for one might turn out to involve (or even be) the search for the other.

  191. Short idea (187): In my experience everyone is bad. In my experience everyone is good. In my experience, when focusing on the bad of a person, the person is experienced as all bad and when focusing on the good of a person, the person is experienced as all good. In my experience, when focusing on the reality of a person, the whole person, the good and bad of a person recede into the background as natural properties inherent in everyone.

  192. Short idea (122): Computers have been compared to brains and spoken of as brains, but the brain has different parts. It seems to me that computers can be correctly compared with the higher cortical brain, the part considered to be responsible for logical thinking, the type of thinking used to solve complex mathematical problems. But computers do not have lower brains, the part of the brain connected with need and want and drive and emotion and passion. Because of this, computers can't be irrational; they can generate random series of numbers, and they can make mistakes, but this is different from being irrational. To be irrational you have to have interests, and you have to have passions that make you act irrationally by going against your interests. Computers don't have interests, so they can't act irrationally. If a computer could be given a lower brain, such a computer would be much more human.

  193. Short idea (6): The way humans are built we can not see the back of our heads directly, no matter what we do.  We can get around this, if we want, by setting up a few mirrors or by asking others to look and tell us what they see. We also can't see the "back sides" of our own personalities. If we want to get around this we can look at our dreams (which reflect the sides of ourselves we can't see) or ask people how we look to them.

  194. Short idea (73): There's a difference between accepting, liking, and, maybe, loving yourself, which is a wonderful thing, and being in love with yourself and worshipping yourself which is, at best, immature.

  195. Short idea (136): The eyes and ears are extra-sensitive parts of the skin and sights and sounds can be thought of as feelings received through touch. At the same time, the less specialized areas of the skin can be thought of as relatively insensitive eyes and ears that receive sights and sounds through touch. — If this isn't true, it is a useful mental exercise in introspection.

  196. Short idea (203): Psychology has set up its store at the intersection of Reality and Imagination, at the corner of the Literal and the Metaphorical — there in that fire pit, in that cauldron.

  197. Short idea (143): Anger is like a storm: You can't prevent or stop or control it, but you can do your best to weather it and keep down the damage.

  198. Short idea (188): It seems to me that there is a third option when confronted with an unpleasant situation besides Fight or Flight. There is also Assessment. Assessment includes Stopping, Waiting, Observation, Feeling, Thinking, and Imagining.

  199. Short idea (83): Without feeling disrespectful in any way, it is useful for a psychologist to think of the impulse to spiritual beliefs as an instinct. If it is, it is as deep rooted as the impulse to eat and the impulse to sex. Some ascetics have tried to cut their eating down to a bare minimum. Other ascetics have tried to eradicate all traces of their sexuality. Ascetics of a different kind try to eradicate all spiritual impulses in themselves. On the other extreme, some dissolute people brag they give into all impulses to eat or to engage in sex. Others, of a different type, are proud they believe in the reality of every visionary experience of every person who reports them ("If a person feels there's a ghost in their house, sure, there must be one"). — Extreme positions with respect to spiritual realities are similar to extreme positions with respect to the other instincts. They have their places in the history of the world and in the history of each individual's life, but, for most people, in the end, they are impossible or near impossible to sustain. It usually doesn't work to give into them all or to try to get rid of them all.

  200. Short idea (171): Derived from my own introspection and understanding of Freud's and Jung's dream theories: If you are heavily caught up in the external world and intent on succeeding and feeling you have a good chance of succeeding, then Freud's theory applies. If you are withdrawn from the world or are pursuing private and personal goals, then Jung's applies. For Freud, dreams reminded you of your inner goals that were overshadowed by you concentration on externals. For Jung, archetypal dreams drew you into deeper and deeper places in yourself and in the world as it appears to you when you feel alone. 

  201. Short idea (140): Usually people see myths as attempts to explain and understand processes in nature such as the cycle of day and night. Even if true sometimes, at other times they may be attempts to explain or describe and stay conscious of internal processes and cycles such as the cycle of emotions (from elation to depression). Inner and outer are both pieces of nature and the same processes and cycles are found in both. So an outer cycle can be used to bring attention to a parallel process that goes on inside.

  202. Short idea (76): To give in to impulses or to resist them? Everything depends on learning which to give into and when.

  203. Short idea (79): Of all the reasons a man climbs mountains, two stand out. The first is to test his endurance, skill, and tenacity and to compare his achievements with those of others. The second is to gain new vistas, to leave the ordinary and enter a new and higher realm, and to achieve a lofty spiritual experience. It is possible to climb for both reasons, and even at the same time.

JMH International Essays — Announcement

Original Essays on the Psychology of Anger and/or Violence 

We thank all those who have submitted an essay to the JMH International Prize Essay Contest. As of now, February 1, 2017, we have decided not to continue with the contest.

For those who feel they have an important contribution to the subject of the Psychology of Anger and/or Violence, please feel free to submit your essay with the form provided here. If the judges agree that the essay is a significant contribution, we will publish it here (subject to agreement with the author).

We include here links related to past essays — For the 2014 contest, click here for the summary article and here for the list of winners; for the 2015 contest, click here for the summary article and the list of winners; and for the 2016 contest, click here.

Longer Observations

  1. Longer Observation (9): Imagination & Reality: Forgetting the difference between Imagination and Reality.

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  2. Longer observation (8): A Mother's Sensitivity: When a mother becomes pre-occupied with some concern or other, she may not feel able to handle her children at the level required by her own standards. This is especially true if the children are also worried about what is worrying the mother. It's difficult enough for the mother to handle her own feelings.

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  3. Longer observation (3): "Why do Good People Suffer?" or "Why do bad things happen to good people?"

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  4. Longer observation (2): What makes Success: The very thing that makes a person a success in the world, the very consciousness required — the work ethic, the cool objective eye, the ability to close off subjective thoughts and feelings and to focus on an end — these abilities, and they are abilities (abilities that not everyone has but that can be developed);

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  5. Longer observation (18): The Great Mystery: Whatever you think about the Great Mystery, the Answer, or the Secret, there are many people who spend much of their lives searching for such things. A portrayal of someone on a Search or Quest for such things is given by Somerset Maugham in his book, The Razor's Edge.

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  6. Longer observation (17): The Center of Everything: It is usually as clear as a bell to young children that the sun and moon are the largest and closest objects in the sky; that the sun is the brightest object in the sky and the moon is the second brightest; that the sun is the center of the daytime sky and moves around our earth; and that the stars are the faintest and most distant objects in the sky.

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  7. Longer observation (6): Everything is Real: Speaking informally, in ordinary language, not scientifically or even logically, we can say, from a psychological angle, that everything is real, but, at the same time, it is also part of the Imagination, part of our Thoughts, and filled with our Feelings and Emotions.

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  8. Longer observation (16): The Growth of Trees and of People: If you look casually at a large tree that has lost its leaves for the Winter, you might be struck by an intriguing and/or beautiful pattern, but the pattern itself will probably appear meaningless and random. A grove of trees or a forest can feel even more overwhelming and confusing and meaningless to an intellect trying to understand it. However, if you begin to think about the tree (or trees) from the angle of their history, the patterns begin to make sense.

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  9. Longer observation (7): Science and Self-Knowledge: It is easy to have views about things, even strong views, even certainties, and to be wrong. Science does not guarantee truth, but the scientific method is an attempt to subject our views, even our certain views, to a slow and methodic and public scrutiny, filled with checks and safe-guards to try to filter out as many false views as possible.

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  10. Longer observation (19): Imagining Ourselves Dying (2): Imagining dying is different than trying to imagine death. Dying is a process; death a state. Here I want to write about a certain type of dying, one where there is no pain, no physical discomfort, and no inconvenience. Here is I am trying to imagine an unusual situation: You find that you will be dying, painlessly, in 30 seconds. I think most people, if they became convinced of this, would be upset. The question is, "Why?"

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  11. Longer observation (1): Raised in a Cave: I read about a South American Indian tribe. In their territory there was a cave, and, occasionally, a newborn child would be selected (I forgot how) to be raised 100% in the cave.

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  12. Longer Observation (21): Deep Cures: Traditional wisdom says that the Lord heals, not doctors. In our times, when medicine is charging ahead recording remarkable successes in its crusade against suffering, is there any place for this old wisdom? In discussing this question I will be focusing on psychological suffering.

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  13. Longer observation (14): An Objective Measure of Success?: Here is a mathematical formula offered as an expression of the amount of success in a person's life: s = (h-l) + w + gwh - d

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  14. Longer Observation (22): Looking for the Best: Some people are not satisfied unless they have the best, whether it be the best car or the best cheese or the best wine or the best house. If they feel they have anything less, they feel dissatisfied, that they are missing something. There is value in this approach to life, in this value system, but there is also at least one important short-coming.

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  15. Longer observation (11): The Body & the Earth: In early thinking the human body is sometimes compared to the earth.

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  16. Longer Observation (5): Measuring Time: There are many ways of measuring time.

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  17. Longer Observation (4): Dream of a Raging River: If a patient can’t cross a raging river in a dream, this can be the whole focus of therapy, and it may take many years for her to discover if she needs to and wants to cross and then how to cross and if she can. And then there is the crossing itself and, finally, the beginning of life on the other side.  These are difficult goals to explain to insurance companies.

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  18. Longer observation (12): A Suggested Model of Memory: Here I would like to make a suggestion for a possible research approach to Memory.

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  19. Longer observation (13): Imagining Ourselves Dying (1): There are different ways to try to imagine we are dying. One way is to picture ourselves in the middle of our daily activities, and then to picture the same scene without us in it. And we think, "That's what it would be like if I were dead!"

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  20. Longer observation (20): Limitations of the DSM-5: Whether or not the newest edition (Fifth Edition) of the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual for mental illnesses is an improvement over the Fourth Edition is being debated within the mental health professional community. Which ever side of the debate we find ourselves on, perhaps we will agree that any attempt to categorize mental illnesses has inherent limitations. We use the image of a building with windows to demonstrate the point.

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  21. Longer observation (15): Is he Bad or Mentally Ill (or Both)?: In these modern times we hear people discussing people who have done something bad. One person says, "He's just bad! No excuses! He should be punished!" and the other person says, "No! He's mentally ill! You would have done the same thing if you had been through what he has been through! We should be compassionate!" The person in question could be a criminal on trial or a political tyrant or even a family member who is hurting and, maybe, tyrannizing, people within the family.

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  22. Longer observation (10): Experiences of the Location of Sounds, An introspective report: The following is a report of observations I made on four nights over a 3 week period.

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A Jungian Approach to the Golem Tradition

According to G. Scholem (1974, p. 351), a golem "is a creature, particularly a human being, made in an artificial way by virtue of a magic act, through the use of holy names." The possibility of making such a creature is connected with the "magical exegesis of the Sefer Yezirah and with the ideas of the creative power of speech and of the letters." It is the purpose of this paper to analyze the golem tradition in terms of modern psychological ideas, in particular, the ideas of C. G. Jung.

A Brief Overview of the Golem Tradition

Until Scholem's pioneering works on the history of the golem motif (e.g., 1965), there was no systematic presentation of the extant golem material. M. Idel (1990) expanded on Scholem's work by "presenting fresh material concerning the nature and history of the Golem" and offered "some other views related to this topic, some of them differing substantially from Scholem's approach" (Idel, pp. xx-xxi). Idel even disagreed with Scholem's definition of golem (appendix B). (For a detailed review of the scholarship regarding the golem literature, including works that analyze golem-making as a proto-scientific intuition of modern genetic engineering or computer technology, see Idel, Introduction and chap. 18).

I think that both Scholem and Idel would agree with the following capsule historical summary: The first use of the word golem is in Psalm 139:16, and the most influential Talmudic discussion of the creation of an artificial man is in TB, Sanhedrin, fol. 65b.

Rava said: If the righteous wished, they could create a world, for it is written, "Your iniquities have been a barrier between you and your God" [Isa. 59:2]. For Rava created a man and sent him to R. Zeira. The Rabbi spoke to him but he did not answer. Then he said: "You are [coming] from the pietists: Return to your dust." (Idel's translation, 1990, p. 27)

The first detailed presentation of golem material in a non-philosophical context appears in the work of the Ashkenazi Hasids in the early part of the thirteenth century and, in particular, in the work of R. Eleazar of Worms (c. 1165-c. 1230), a student of R. Yehudah ha-Hasid (Idel, 1990, p. 54-5). R. Eleazar portrays himself as passing on an esoteric tradition brought to Germany from Italy by his illustrious family, the Kalonymides. In fact, the earliest extant story of a golem as a servant says that R. Shemuel he-Hasid, R. Yehudah's father, "'had created a golem, who could not speak but who accompanied him on his long journeys through Germany and France and waited on him'" (from a sixteenth century manuscript, Scholem, 1965, p. 199).

This story is typical of the popular legends that appeared no later than the seventeenth century in relation to figures like R. Elijah of Chelm (d. 1583). Regarding the best-known legend to the effect that the Great Rabbi Loew of Prague, the Maharal (d. 1609), created a golem who he named Yossel, to protect the Jews of Prague, Scholem says, "This legend has no historical basis in the life of Loew or in the era close to his lifetime. It was transferred from R. Elijah of Chelm to R. Loew only at a very late date" (Scholem, 1974, p. 353).

Since 1909, when Judah Rosenberg published his "Miraculous Deeds of Rabbi Loew with the Golem," which he presented as an early manuscript but which Scholem says "was not written until after the blood libels of the 1890's" (Scholem, 1974, p. 354), the golem has become a popular subject for works in the major and peripheral arts. There are novels, short stories, poems, and even Marvel comic books about the golem. There have been movies and dramas, ballets and operas, as well as paintings, lithographs, photographs, sculptures and even instrumental music in which the golem is the theme. A recent exhibition at the Jewish Museum presented examples and illustrations from all these media. The publication from this exhibit (Bilski, 1988) contains many interesting illustrations as well as a useful checklist of the exhibits (Bilski, pp. 112-121).

Jung on Homunculi and the Creation of an Artificial Antropoid

As far as I am aware, there has been no detailed psychological study of the golem tradition. Jung uses the word golem five times in his collected works but always as part of the title of Meyrink's popular psychological novel, The Golem (1915/1976). Jung quoted and analyzed a midrashic story about the stages of the creation of Adam in which the word golem applies to Adam at an early developmental stage, when he was still a lifeless body (Jung, 1955-1956/1963, p. 409, n. 179). He quoted the passage, but only in the German translation, and did not use the word golem or focus on the concept of Adam as unformed being.

Jung did discuss the homunculus, the alchemical version of the artificial man, that emerged in the alchemical flask during a certain stage of the alchemical work. Scholem believed that the golem of later popular legend was "related to ideas current in non-Jewish circles concerning the creation of an alchemical man (the 'homunculus' of Paracelsus)" (Scholem, 1974, p. 353), and he was aware of Jung's psychological analysis of the homunculus (Scholem, 1965, p. 198, n. 2). Idel, on the other hand, says that "an examination of the pertinent material in Jewish sources evinces that there is no substantial affinity between the basic views of the Golem and the homunculus material" (Idel, 1990, p. 185). I will return to this dispute between the two historians in the next section.

First I will touch on Jung's view of the psychology underlying the homunculus motif, a view which bears, albeit indirectly, on our analysis of the golem. To understand the relevance of what follows to our theme, it is necessary to know that the creation of the golem by a rabbi was thought of, in Jewish sources, as paralleling the creation of Adam from dust by God (Gen. 2:7). The rabbi repeated God's work.

According to Jung, in alchemy, Adam was:

a symbol for the prima materia or transformative substance....[The clay from which he was made] was a piece of the original chaos, of the massa confusa, not yet differentiated but capable of differentiation; something, therefore, like shapeless, embryonic tissue. Everything could be made out of it. [See Idel, 1990, appendix B, for golem as embryo] (1955-1956/1963, p. 385)

The goal of the alchemical work was to bring this chaotic substance, symbolized by the hostility between the four elements, to unity, "to the 'One,' [namely] the lapis [stone], which at the same time was an homunculus" (Jung, p. 385). The homunculus corresponds to "the second Adam who is called the philosophic man" (from Aurora consurgen, quoted in Jung, p. 385, n. 18 and, apparently, influenced by Jewish Kabbalah). Jung says that "in this way the Philosopher [the alchemist] repeated God's work of creation described in Genesis 1" (p. 385). In this respect, the Philosopher would have been like a golem maker.

Jung quotes from the Jewish Midrash, Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer to the effect that "God collected the dust from which Adam was made from the four corners of the earth" and that this dust was four colors: red, black, white, and green (1955-1956/1963, p. 386). He also refers to the tradition that God made Adam from dust from all over the world (p. 386).

If we look at the sum of Jewish, Islamic, Christian, and alchemical representations of Adam (Jung, 1955-1956/1963, pp. 384-9), Adam has a quaternary nature. About this Jung says that

all mythological figures who are marked by a quaternity have ultimately to do with the structure of consciousness. We can therefore understand why Isaac Luria attributed every psychic quality to Adam: he is the psyche par excellence. .... Adam stands not only for the psyche but for its totality; he is a symbol of the self, and hence a visualization of the "irrepresentable" Godhead. (p. 390)

Discussing the tradition that Adam was, at first a "lifeless statue," Jung mentions the Christian view that there are two Adams, the second being "our father, unto resurrection" (Ephraem Syrus quoted in Jung, 1955-1956/1963, p. 394, n. 67). Jung goes on to quote the alchemist Mylius and notes that he cannot trace the source of Mylius' ideas. This passage from Mylius is worth quoting, because there may very well be an influence of Jewish golem literature here. As in the following passage, Jewish authors often interpreted golem-making as the creation of souls (see, for example, Idel, 1990, pp. 16 ff. and 102).

There now remains the second part of the philosophical practice, by far the more difficult....For it is more difficult to make a man live again, than to slay him. Here is God's work besought: for it is a great mystery to create souls, and to mould the lifeless body into a living statue. ("Mylius" in Jung, p. 394)

Jung connects this living statue, the end result of the alchemical work, with Adam (who represents the beginning and the end of the work); with the lapis (and perhaps "the Cabalistic interpretation of the stone of Bethel") which was "paraphrased as the risen Christ" (Jung, 1955-1956/1963, pp. 395-7); and, presumably, with the homunculus.

Jung defines a motif that existed in alchemy, Christianity, and in Judaism, of Adam as the inventor of all arts, with a knowledge of all things, including the future (as he still lay as a lifeless lump — i.e., a golem) (Jung, 1955-1956/1963, pp. 397-406; 409, n. 179). Also in alchemy, Adam had a dual nature: light (before the fall) and dark (after the fall); physical (connected with Satan) and spiritual (connected to God); earthen but also in the image of God; male and also female (Jung, pp. 406 ff.). In this context Jung quotes various midrashic passages referring to Adam which he summarizes as follows. Adam is

the homo maximus, the Anthropos, from whom the macrocosm arose, or who is the macrocosm [until he was reduced to human size]. He is not only the prima materia but a universal soul which is [or contains] also the soul of all men [and a universal body from whose various parts future humans would come].(p. 409)

It is interesting that these texts are among the very ones that are quoted in both Scholem (1965, pp. 159-65) and Idel (1990, chap. 3) as having influenced the golem theorists.

With respect to the homunculus, per se, in alchemy, it is equivalent, as we saw above, to the lapis and is a "symbol of the self....not a human ego but a collective entity, a collective soul" (Jung, 1968, pp. 245-6).

This lapis "consists of body, soul, and spirit, is a living being, a homunculus or 'homo.' It symbolizes man, or rather, the inner man, and the paradoxical statements about it are really descriptions and definitions of this inner man." (1954/1967, "Visions," p. 102)

The lapis is also a rotundum, an idea which "by reason of its roundness and wholeness refers to the Original Man, the Anthropos" (Jung, 1968, p. 246). In the theosophical Kabbalah that we will discuss below, the golem is described as a sphere by R. Joseph Ashkenazi (Idel, 1990, p. 158, n. 67), and, in the system of Isaac Luria, the golem, as Adam Qadmon, the Primordial Man, is said to emanate from, the tehiru, a spherical space (Idel, p. 158). In the Midrash mentioned above, at an early stage of his growth, Adam is a golem and a macranthropos, presumably Adam Qadmon himself. By extension, at one time, Adam was a sphere.

An homunculus appears in a dream vision of the early alchemist, Zosimos, as one stage in an inner transformation ritual (Jung, 1942/1969, p. 227) in which

a product of the unconscious, an homunculus, is cut up and transformed. By all the rules of dream-interpretation, this is an aspect of the observing subject himself; that is to say, Zosimos sees himself as an homunculus, or rather the unconscious represents him as such, as an incomplete, stunted, dwarfish creature who is made of some heavy material (lead or bronze) and thus signifies the "hylical man" [cf. golem as hyle in Scholem, 1965, p. 161]. Such a one is dark, and sunk in materiality. He is essentially unconscious and therefore in need of transformation and enlightenment.(p. 272)

In Faust, Jung said,

Goethe...was able to describe the psychological problem which arises when the inner man, or greater personality that before had lain hidden in the homunculus, emerges into the light of consciousness and confronts the erstwhile ego, the animal man.(1942/1969, p. 90)

I will conclude this section with one of Jung's comments on the homunculus of Paracelsus. This quote includes a definition of individuation, a term, I will argue, that applies to golem-making as well. Though Paracelsus believed he could make an homunculus (Jung, 1942/1967, p. 123), still the aim of his opus

In Faust, Jung said,

was to raise man to the sphere of the Anthropos. There is no doubt that the goal of the philosophical alchemist was higher self-development, or the production of what Paracelsus calls the homo maior, or what I would call individuation. This goal confronts the alchemist at the start with the loneliness which all of them feared, when one has 'only' oneself for company. The alchemist, on principle, worked alone. He formed no school. This rigorous solitude, together with his preoccupation with the endless obscurities of the work, was sufficient to activate the unconscious and, through the power of imagination, to bring into being things that apparently were not there before.(Jung, p. 179)

Though Jung did no direct work on the golem tradition as such, his researches on the symbols of Adam, the Anthropos, and the homunculus are indirectly also analyses of the golem material. In what follows, I will apply Jung's line of thought to the golem material: Golem-making embodied a psychological process, the individuation process, that is, the search for, and the work on, the complete self.

Before proceeding with the golem myth, it is important, for clarification, to address two technical issues. This will also give me a chance to introduce a few more of Jung's key concepts.

The Idea of a Golem

As is clear from the title of the essay The Idea of the Golem, Scholem believed that there was a consistent idea of the golem throughout the history of the tradition. Idel, on the other hand, argued that "to conceive the Golem as exhausted by one 'idea' or 'image' is a simplistic assumption" (1990, p. 271). This dispute extended also to the question of the relation between the golem and the homunculus. Are the golem and homunculus examples of the same idea or not? As I said in the above discussion, Scholem implied "Yes," whereas Idel answered a clear, "No."

The homunculus was conceived by Paracelsus as a tiny anthropoid generated during the process of putrefaction of human semen and menstrual blood. These two basic components do not appear in any of the devices discussed by Jews, where the Golem is formed solely from clay or dust and water; neither is the central theory of the combination of letters hinted at in the writings of Paracelsus....(Idel, 1990, p. 185)

For our purposes, both Scholem's and Idel's points of view may be considered valid and useful, just as, in a parallel example, though a person's right and left arms are different, they are still both arms. The physician must know the anatomy of arms in general, but he must also be able to apply his general knowledge to specific arms of specific patients he treats.

Similarly, each of the many golem accounts is different from all the others, and so, in a way, there is no single golem idea or image. On the other hand, there is at least a family resemblance between the stories. Similarly, though there are important differences between the golem and the homunculus of alchemy, both are human figures created by men in their magical/mystical work.

Another example will add a new dimension to our discussion of the golem. There is a Tlingit Indian story (Beck, 1989, p. 11) about a man named Natsilane who was said to be the creator of the blackfish (killer whale).

His fine build, agile movements and dignified manner hinted that he was of high caste. He was a highly skilled carver, and all the hunters sought him out to carve their spears.(Beck, p. 3)

Natsilane wanted revenge against his brothers-in-law, and so he carved a blackfish which he tried to animate so that it might act out his feelings. He failed three times, and then tried a fourth.

Inspiration was surging through him as he began to carve the fourth blackfish, this time from yellow cedar. When it was finished, Natsilane sang the songs of his ancestors and also a song to the sea lions.

Inspiration was surging through him as he began to carve the fourth blackfish, this time from yellow cedar. When it was finished, Natsilane sang the songs of his ancestors and also a song to the sea lions.

This time the blackfish became animated and swam away.

It is easy to find differences between the blackfish and the various golem stories. For example, Natsilane sang a song to animate his carving, whereas the rabbis are said to have pronounced Hebrew syllables from the Sefer Yezirah to animate their sculptures. In one sense these two stories are about two different creatures, two different creators, and two different methods of (and perhaps reasons) for creating. Yet, in another sense, they are strikingly similar. In both there is an unusual individual who creates a living creature by vocalizing sounds of his ancestors (see Gruenwald, 1973, p. 475, where the oldest known name of the Sefer Yezirah seems to be The Letters of Abraham the Patriarch [i.e., of Abraham our Father]).

There is a version of the Natsilane story (Swanton, 1909) that gives the sounds he made to animate the carving. "He whistled four times like the spirit, 'Whu, whu, whu, whu'" (Swanton, p. 231). This sound was a syllable (whu) similar to those that would have been pronounced by Jewish masters creating a golem by vocalizing letter combinations. Further, "whu" is said to be a sound made by the spirits. I have not been able to find the Tlingit word for spirit or the nuances of its meaning, but it may very well function like the Hebrew word ruach which means spirit and also wind and breath. In the Sefer Yezirah we are told that the spirit of God (ruach elohim) is what creates the elements of the world, presumably including animal and human life. In vocalizing the syllables, the rabbis were, presumably, imitating the spirit (of God) in a way learned from their ancestors just as Natsilane was imitating the spirit when he pronounced the syllable taught to him by his ancestors. It will also be remembered that Natsilane said "whu" four times which connects his work with the quaternity discussed by Jung and that intimates a numinous experience.

The different versions of the blackfish story (another one can be found in Swanton, 1909, p. 25) parallel the different versions of the golem stories, yet we can still speak of the blackfish story just as we can still speak of the golem story. Further, in certain contexts, it would be correct to say that the golem story and the blackfish story are really different versions of the same motif.

Jung's concept of archetype (Jung borrowed the word from Philo), is useful in describing a similar story told by two peoples separated by space and time, where there seems no possibility of one having influenced the other. An archetype is an image that spontaneously appears in the dreams and visions of all people, at all times and places. Archetypes seem to be built into our minds and represent the inner experience of an instinct. This is why an archetypal experience is very emotional and fascinating and often gives the feeling of awe and holiness as well as the belief that one has "met" God and found a prophetic voice. There is an obvious danger of disorientation here, or even of psychosis.

All the archetypes together are called, by Jung, the collective unconscious and are to be distinguished from the personal unconscious with its repressed sexuality and aggression. The collective unconscious along with the ego is called the self, and the process of the ego encountering and actively relating to the archetypal realm, a process that transforms both the ego and the collective unconscious, is referred to by Jung as the process of individuation.

Jung's view was that the creation of the homunculus was a medieval experiment in individuation projected out onto matter. To my understanding, this same psychological process is at work in golem-making, though it appears in a uniquely Jewish form. The Jew is a person like all persons, and any human might confront the collective unconscious. Still, the inner experience of the Jew is also unique. It is important, therefore, to understand one Jewish experiment in individuation, the making of the golem, a creature that, like the self, is described in the most diverse and contradictory ways.

Before proceeding, however, we must squarely face the question of whether a psychological analysis can be applied to golem making.

The Place of a Psychology in the analysis of the Golem tradition

The views of two scholars: Scholem and Idel

At the end of The Idea of the Golem (1965, p. 204), Scholem seems to invite the psychologist to build on his work:

The golem has been interpreted as a symbol of the soul or of the Jewish people, and both theories can give rise, no doubt, to meaningful reflections. But the historian's task ends where the psychologist's begins.

This psychology-friendly attitude is not expressed by Idel, at least in his writings on the golem. At one point he even concludes that, "it seems that the material on the Golem does not fit comfortably on the psychoanalytical sofa" (1990, p. 254).

It seems that this difference stems from a disagreement as to whether the rabbis entered a mystical ("ecstatic") state to attempt the creation of the golem, and whether the purpose of the attempted creation was to attain these mystical experiences. Scholem says, "Yes," Idel says, "No" (Scholem, 1974, p. 352; Idel, 1990, e.g., pp. 272-5). This discussion is connected with a broader discussion of the various schools of Jewish mystical-magical thought (for example, Idel, 1988, introduction).

A practicing psychologist has a different orientation to this problem than the historians. It seems to me that, if the golem-making methods I will discuss below were actually put into practice, the practitioners very likely experienced some sort of "altered state of consciousness" — even if not an ecstatic or mystical one per se — whether or not they admitted it in writing. This would be true, not only in the making of a golem, but in the utilization of any complex magical technique for any purpose.

A further problem for the psychologist is that, though many golem-making formulas are extant, I cannot find one claim of golem-making success. There are many reports about others having created a golem — apparently belief in golem-making was near universal among non-philosophers — but there is no first hand account of a golem creation. More importantly, only one man confesses to having begun to make a golem at all. The Gaon of Vilna (d. 1797)

owned to his student Rabbi Hayim, founder of the famous Talmudic academy of Volozhin, that as a boy, not yet thirteen, he had actually undertaken to make a golem. "But when I was in the middle of my preparations, a form passed over my head, and I stopped making it, for I said to myself: Probably heaven wants to prevent me because of my youth."(Scholem, 1965, pp. 203-4)

Does the apparent fact, that a man of such stature as the Gaon of Vilna tried to create a golem, mean that this work was common, or, on the contrary, does it imply that only a rare individual would have attempted such an enterprize? We have no way of knowing.

There is a very big difference psychologically between someone who actually tries to create a golem and someone who never tries, but who believes that others have tried, and who, therefore experiences the golem work only vicariously. This is similar to the difference within Christianity between a person who believes in Jesus as the Christ and one who tries to imitate the life of Jesus.

For the purposes of this paper I will assume: (1) apparently with Scholem and Idel that some Ashkenazi Hasids practiced various techniques to make a golem though, strictly speaking, there is no direct evidence for this; (2) with Scholem that these proceedings, at least at times, had numinous overtones and that a fascination surrounded them; (3) with Idel and perhaps Scholem that these men at times had an experience of an actual golem, what we moderns would consider to be hallucinatory experiences; (4) with Idel that they did not understand this experience as a work of the imagination, that is, psychologically, but as the creation of a material creature; (5) with Idel that in the school of Abraham Abulafia (1240-after 1291) there was the first real understanding of the whole process as psychological; (6) that this understanding encouraged the use of visualization techniques that did not involve any physical materials; and (7) with Idel that, in theosophical Kabbalah, the golem-making stories were used as symbols for events in the divine world —what Jungian's would call the archetypal realm.

Psychological understanding of Golem-making in early kabbalistic writing

A psychological understanding of golem-making seems to have entered with Abraham Abulafia. A text from Abulafia's circle, signed "Peace, power, Abram," prescribes a complex ritual (to be discussed below) at the end of which it says "an image [demut] will emerge" (Idel, 1990, p. 98). Presumably this means that the golem is a figure in the imagination (for an example from Abulafia of a technique for visualization, that is, creation of the golem, see Idel, pp. 100-1).

Idel hypothesizes that, for R. Joseph ben Shalom Ashkenazi (early fourteenth century), the conception of golem-making involved "active imagination" or "visualization" similar to techniques R. Joseph recommended for prayer (Idel, 1990, chap. 8). Idel uses the words active imagination which are the very words Jung used to describe his dream work. I am not sure if Idel was aware of this coincidence of terms.

The Christian Kabbalist, Lodovico Lazarelli, who was, according to Idel (1990), possibly indirectly influenced by the writings of Abulafia, saw golem-making as a "new, spiritual a generation of the intellect...rather than [of] the corporeal activity" (p. 176; see also, Idel, 1988, Hermeticism...).

Finally, we have the view of R. Israel Basu, a nineteenth century Oriental Kabbalist, who thought that the golem was related, in Idel's words, to "the vision of one's own form during a mystical experience" (1990, p. 290).

Earlier writers tended to conceive of the golem as a physical creation. As I have just showed, I am not the first to interpret their endeavor as an inner enterprize, projected out.

Golem: Fact or Fiction?

The question, "Golem: fact or a fiction?" creates an artificial either/or. The following quote expresses Jung's attitude towards homunculi, and, I am sure, his understanding of the golem would have been identical. Creatures like these

are the grossest superstitions for us so-called moderns, for a man of Paracelsus's time they were nothing of the sort. In those days these figures were living and effective forces. They were projections, of course; but of that, too, Paracelsus seems to have had an inkling, since it is clear from numerous passages in his writings that he was aware that homunculi and suchlike beings were creatures of the imagination. His more primitive cast of mind attributed a reality to these projections, and this reality did far greater justice to their psychological effect than does our rationalistic assumption of the absolute unreality of projected contents. Whatever their reality may be, functionally at all events they behave just like realities. We should not let ourselves be so blinded by the modern rationalistic fear of superstition that we lose sight completely of those little-known psychic phenomena which surpass our present scientific understanding.(Jung, 1942/1967, p. 159)

Illusions may serve an important cognitive purpose. A man with a mole on his temple can never see the mole with his own eyes. If he has a mirror he can see it, but, strictly speaking, he is not seeing the mole but a reflection of the mole in the mirror. The reflection is an illusion, but it is only through this illusion that he can see what everyone else can see quite easily. An illusion is not just one way he can see the mole; it is the only way. Paradoxically, it is only through an illusion that he can get knowledge (even useful knowledge).

Similarly with the psyche: The "eye" that sees the self seems also to have its blind spot. It seems impossible to see directly certain facts about oneself (that everyone else can see easily). The self is like the sun; it can only be glimpsed indirectly. The self is very large, containing much good and evil, and there is much that we do not see, do not want to see, and, perhaps, cannot see. Dreams and visions are illusions, but they serve as mirrors for self perception. The moment we turn from the "mirror" to look at ourselves scientifically and rationally, we lose both the mirror and ourselves. The golem (as well as the golem legend) may be an illusion and a superstition, as Maimonides thought, but, if we turn away from it, we will turn away from looking at ourselves also.

The Golem Myth itself with our Attempt to Understand it Psychologically

The Jewish imagination is similar to a coral reef that has been built up over many centuries. The reef is composed of the contributions of millions of tiny animals. Each coral animal secretes a lime substance onto the collective reef, and, when it hardens, it becomes its home and also the foundation for the home of future animals.

It is similar with the Jewish imagination. Each person who read or heard a sacred story built a little structure on it with his or her own imagination that helped the person live more comfortably. What distinguished the process in Judaism from, say that of the Tlingit Indians, is that, for thousands of years, many Jews wrote down their little additions. Over the centuries and millennia many of the individuals who were the sources of each small addition were forgotten, and their creations hardened into a part of Jewish canon. Once it was written it became almost sacrosanct as a little piece of Hebrew holy literature and, as such, a foundation on which future men, within the orthodox Jewish religion, could create their psychic structures. Each man saw something a little different yet built on what went before.

To understand the golem myth it is necessary to understand pieces of the great reef on which the golem makers built.

The Myth: 1. Background

"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth," but what was He doing before this? Jewish tradition pictures God, in illo tempore, in His kingdom, sitting on His throne, surrounded by myriads of angels and consorting with Wisdom (personified as a woman) who is connected with or even identical with the Torah.

On God's crown and on His throne are the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet (Alexander, 1983, pp. 313, 292). On His throne are also "all the sacred names engraved with a pen of flame...[which] fly off like eagles...and encompass and surround the Holy one...on the four sides of the abode of his glorious Shekinah" (Alexander, pp. 290-1). These names form a mandalic quaternity around God and suggest the presence of the archetype of the whole self.

The 22 letters are the letters "by which heaven and earth were which wisdom and understanding [and the Torah]...were created, by which the whole world is sustained" (Alexander, 1983, pp. 265-6).

God also used His divine name (in the form of Iao) after the creation. When "the dragon of chaos moved and rocked the creation...God brought it to rest and made the world stable again by exclaiming: Iao" (quoted from a magical papyrus by Fossum, 1985, pp. 248-9 and see pp. 249-53).

Besides names and letters, there are also books in heaven. For example, there are the tablets of heaven read by Enoch by which he "came to understand everything" (Isaac, 1983, p. 59) and the books of the living and the books of the dead which sit open before the Lord every day when He sits on the throne of judgment (Alexander, 1983, p. 283). The Torah, with words arranged in their original order, is there, and we must not forget the book from Psalm 139, a psalm said to have been written by Adam:

My frame was not concealed from You when I was shaped in a hidden place, knit together in the recesses of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed [Hebrew: galmi] limbs; they were all recorded in Your book; in due time they were formed, to the very last one of them. (JPS translation, Ps 139:15-16)

The Sefer Yezirah was just such a book containing the secret of how God used the ten Sefiroth and combinations of the 22 Hebrew letters (seen as a divine name) to create the whole physical universe, presumably including Adam and all future people. The Sefer Yezirah contained the "essence of the written Torah" (from a manuscript of an anonymous Kabbalist, quoted in Idel, 1990, p. 67). It was through study of this book that Abraham, Jeremiah and his son Ben Sirah, and others following them, learned how to create artificial creatures.

The Myth: 2. Making a Golem

In what follows I have to be succinct. If the reader wishes to learn the rich history of the golem idea he should consult the texts of Scholem and Idel.

The Myth: 2. Making a Golem: a. Preparations

There are two main requirements for the creation of the golem: moral purity and knowledge of the Sefer Yezirah.

R. Eleazar of Worms writes, "Whoever studies Sefer Yezirah has to purify himself [and] don white clothes" and adds that "if he will sin, he [apparently the golem] will return to the dust" (in Idel, 1990, p. 60). Other medieval Ashkenazi texts require a "state of ritual purity" (in Idel, p. 60) or for you to "wash yourself and immerse yourself in water" (in Idel, p. 63). A later anonymous text explains that the ancients "created worlds since [or after] they cleaved to God, i.e., to the [attribute of] Righteousness..." (in Idel, p. 107), while the nineteenth century Hasidic master, R. Gershom Hanokh Leiner, suggests that to create a man, one must be "perfectly righteous" (in Idel, p. 226).

In the Sefer ha-Bahir, we find the idea that, if a person had no iniquity, this person could create a complete, speaking man (unlike Rava in the Sanhedrin story),

but your iniquities have been a barrier between you and your God. Behold, if not for your iniquities, there would be no separation between you and Him....Were it not for our iniquities, [which caused] that the soul is not pure, which is the separation between you and Him.... (in Idel, 1990, p. 128)

As Idel suggests, this passage, in conjunction with a passage from the Talmudic tractate Berakhot (in Idel, p. 128), implies that "man is endowed, ex definitio, with creative forces that are divine powers, and which cease to function only when he defiles his soul" (Idel, p. 129).

To attain the level of perfect righteousness described in the above texts is not, I believe, simply to obey the Jewish law. There is the purity needed to obey the Ten Commandments, and there is the purity of the Patriarchs before Sinai. It is my impression, though I cannot prove it, that the purity required to make a golem is of the latter sort and has a mystical overtone (see Marcus, 1981, chap. 2, for a discussion of the concept of purity in Ashkenazi Hasidism). The words of the nineteenth century Hasidic master, R. Zadoq ha-Kohen, are paraphrased by Idel:

There is a certain personal contact between man and the divine....on the level of the heart; there the divine vitality is found and there man is able to encounter "the divine heart". God contracts Himself in the heart of the mystic, and when such a contact is established, the possibility of influence on the divine requires a mystical encounter between the two hearts.... (p. 249)

It is no wonder that the paradigmatic golem maker was Jeremiah who the Bible quotes as saying,

You, Lord, have noted and observed me;

You have tested my heart, and found it with You.

[italics added](Jeremiah 12:3)

Besides purity, knowledge of the Sefer Yezirah is required. This knowledge includes an understanding of the letters and the combinations of letters (see, for example, Idel, 1990, p. 97) as well as "the power of the Ineffable Name [of 72 letters]" (R. Reuven Zarfati, fourteenth century, quoted in Idel, p. 104). This is not rote knowledge like learning the multiplication tables. It is emphasized, for example by R. Yohanan ben Isaac Alemanno (1435/8-c. 1510), that this knowledge is not rational like that of the philosophers but is

the knowledge of essences [which] is the wisdom of prophecy, achieved by the sudden vision [italics added]. And from it the knowledge of the roots of the corruptible things is derived so that [he will] know the intermingling of those roots in the sphere of the intellect, also named the sphere of the letters. (in Idel, p. 168)

It is not ordinary learning but an "influx of wisdom" (in Idel, p. 97, from an anonymous kabbalist in the circle of Abraham Abulafia). R. Nathan (thirteenth century), the Teacher of R. Isaac of Acre, put it this way.

And if she [the soul] will merit to cleave to the Divine Intellect, fortunate is she, for she has returned to her source and root, and she is called, literally, Divine Intellect. And that person is called the "Man of God", that is to say, a Divine Man, who creates worlds. (in Idel, p. 106)

Here, the requirement for golem making is to become a "Man of God" or even more extreme, a "Divine Man." In the words of R. Isaac ben Samuel of Acre (late thirteenth to mid-fourteenth century), the men who created golems, like Jeremiah and Ben Sirah, had "attained a divine perfection" (in Idel, 1990, p. 109).

Though it is hard to know exactly what these phrases mean, there even seem to be hints that a man must become a kind of Christ, a god-man, in order to create a golem. And it is interesting to note in this context that Jesus was said to have made birds of clay that flew off (Scholem, 1965, p. 172).

Three years of intense study were required of Jeremiah and Ben Sirah; how much for a more ordinary man is not made clear. So golem-making is not an easy task. It is hard to picture a man leading an ordinary life and preparing to create a golem at the same time. In his novel, The Golem, I. B. Singer, describes his fictional hero after having finished his creation: "Rabbi Leib's mind was too occupied with the golem to pay much attention to the conversation of his wife and children..." (Singer, 1982, p. 35).

Society requires morality and knowledge, but mystical purity and prophetic knowledge are feared and ridiculed and denied. In our society, even such a small step as cutting down on ones cholesterol may get jeers at the local deli. Even for a medieval rabbi it must have been unusual to aspire to "attain divine perfection," to become a Divine Man, to speak, act, and think in a godly fashion. There must have been some who tried, however, since R. Isaac of Acre left a book of his own dreams, visions, and revelations called Ozar Hayyim, and, in Me'irat Einayim, he presented a way for a person to attain prophecy (from the Encyclopaedia Judaica).

Divine Man is not a social category like businessman or tailor or even rabbi. A Divine Man would be outside society, thinking and acting outside societal conventions. Many of the rabbis considered golem-making to be an esoteric discipline. We must ask seriously how the "Man of God" looked to his wife, family, and society? As an example, though perhaps an atypical one, Abraham Abulafia had messianic and prophetic pretensions and spent time in jail and, eventually, suffered exile because of his beliefs and actions. I would guess that, in many cases, the higher the golem makers thought they were going, in the eyes of much of society, they looked like they were going lower and lower into a rude, selfish, tiresome, and even dangerous egocentricism.

It may not be an accident that many, even most, of the golem texts remain in manuscript form.

The same can be said about contemporary people who, having stumbled into the archetypal world through dreams or visions (or drugs), believe they have found a prophetic knowledge and saintly purity not taught in family, school, or synagogue. These people often feel alienated from society, and society looks down on them, and, it is at this moment, that they may turn to the psychologist.

R. Isaac of Acre (who, as we just saw, must himself have had prophetic pretensions) cites Deut. 18:15 in relation to the prophet Jeremiah: "The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet from among your own people, like myself [italics added]; him you shall heed." The words like myself are critical and imply that a prophet would speak like God. This is consistent with Jeremiah's own words, "The Lord put out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me: Herewith I put My words into your mouth" (Jeremiah 1:9). When the words (and presumably the letters) of God came out of his mouth, the men of Anathoth told Jeremiah to stop "or you will die by our hand" (11:21). Even his relatives were treacherous towards him: they cried after him "like a mob" (12:6). Later he was arrested, and the officials "beat him and put him into prison, and Jeremiah remained there a long time" (37:11-16), and legend says that he died a martyr, lynched by a Jewish mob. If we were to look for the golem-maker Jeremiah, we would not find him enjoying a good reputation and the other comforts of society.

I have abandoned My House, I have deserted My possession, I have given over My dearly beloved Into the hands of her enemies. My own people acted toward Me Like a lion in the forest....(12:7-8)

The Myth: 2. Making a Golem: b. The Materials

We find the following recipe in the Commentary on Sefer Yezirah by R. Eleazar of Worms:

It is incumbent upon him [the golem maker] to take virgin soil from a place in the mountains where no one has plowed. And he shall knead the dust with living water, and he shall make a body [golem].... (in Idel, 1990, p. 56)

The need for virgin soil is repeated in many of the texts. Examples from Ashkenazi, or Ashkenazi influenced texts are "take virgin soil from underneath virgin earth" (in Idel, p. 60); "bring virgin soil, which was never plowed" (in Idel, p. 63); "out of the elements, [take] dust of a virgin soil" (in Idel, p. 65); and "they took new dust, which was not wrought" (in Idel, p. 69). The following detailed recipe, according to Idel, comes from the manuscript signed Abram I quoted above.

And he shall take pure dust and flour.... Afterwards let him take a cup full of pure water and a small spoon, and fill it with dust. He should be acquainted with the weight of all the dust before he begins to stir it, and also with the size of the spoon which [serves him] to measure. And after he will fill it, he shall pour it in the water, and he will gently blow during his pouring onto the surface of the water. (In Idel, p. 97)

The mountain from which the dust is to be gathered may refer to the Temple mount from which, one Jewish source says, the dust for Adam was taken, but Sinai also comes to mind. In either case, the mountain is where the Lord lives (e.g., Ex. 15:17) and from where he provides revelations to his priests (see Idel, 1990, p. 61). The idea of virgin soil may indicate a Christian influence (according to B. Rosenfeld, quoted in Scholem, 1965, p. 185, n. 3) and would be evidence for equating the golem and Christ, the second Adam.

The mountain is a well-attested archetype. It is a place where the gods live. One goes there to seek ritual purity and prophetic revelations. Zarathustra, Buddha, Moses, Mohammed, and Jesus are all said to have had revelations on mountains. Creation often takes place on mountains, and, in one story, Eden was on Mt. Zion. It is also the land of the ancestors, the land of the dead, and Jesus was crucified on a mountain.

In our texts, pure dust from a mountain and living water parallel the unblemished soul and the Divine Intellect required for the golem work. Venturing to the mountain and taking back virgin soil symbolizes placing oneself into a primordial and pristine wilderness (within the self), a kind of Eden, before temptation, book-knowledge, sin, or work. We may wonder if R. Eleazar worked on the golem before or after the massacre of his wife and children.

The dust or clay is to be molded into a figure which is, in one text, buried (the Pseudo-Sa'adyian commentary on the Sefer Yezirah quoted in Idel, 1990, p. 81), or it is spread on the earth (in Idel, p. 69) or in "your study" (in Idel, p. 63) or "here and there upon your holy Temple" (in Idel, p. 60). Interpreting this as if it were a dream, the matter (our original nature) is brought home and worked on. This is like entering analysis.

This fetching of the material plays an interesting role in Singer's story. The mysterious figure who tells Rabbi Leib to make a golem "from clay" says, "See to it that all this remains a secret" (Singer, 1982, p. 23). On the very next page we are told that

although the holy man had told Rabbi Leib that his appearance and the making of the golem must remain a secret, Rabbi Leib realized that he had to share it with his beadle, Todrus....A strong man, he was totally devoted to the rabbi....Rabbi Leib knocked lightly at his door and whispered, "Todrus." "Rabbi, what is it that you wish?" Todrus asked, awaking immediately. "I need clay."(Singer, p. 24)

In other words, the very first thing the rabbi does is disregard the quite clear instructions of the benefactor, because he cannot or will not do the physical part of the work, the bringing of ten sackfuls of clay from "the clay ditches in the suburbs of Prague" (Singer, 1982, p. 26). This shows that the work required in making a golem is outside the ordinary job requirements of at least this one fictional rabbi and that golem making exercises the sensation function as well as the thinking function. Coming down from the synagogue, to the river (of the collective unconscious), is something the rabbi cannot or will not do. Psychologically, he will not face the unconscious.

In some of the texts, the need for physical dust is dispensed with altogether. An anonymous author says that holy men, like God Himself, can create with breath alone:

Whatever they say appears immediately because the vapour which goes out of their mouth is pure and holy and it is combined with the air of the world and the thing is made and so do they create. (in Idel, 1990, p. 90)

In the anonymous Sefer ha-Hayyim (c. 1200), we are told that the golem can be created from the dust taken from under the feet of the merkavah constellation (Idel, p. 88). It seems possible that the author was conceiving of the dust as being collected in a heavenly journey similar to the trips to the merkavah in the heikhalot literature. The merkavah is the chariot (from Ezekiel) on which God's throne rests. Since the merkavah is in God's kingdom, and, in some texts, God's kingdom is understood as our imagination, this concept comes close to a modern psychological understanding of golem-making as work on the inner material of our inner nature (cf. Idel, 1990, p. 120 regarding the ideas of R. Joseph Ashkenazi).

The Myth: 2. Making the Golem: c. The Infusion

Though there are many variations of the technique for animating the molded form, an apparently seminal statement is found in R. Eleazar's Commentary on the "Sefer Yezirah".

[The golem-maker] shall begin to permutate the alphabets of 221 gates, each limb separately, each limb with the corresponding letter mentioned in Sefer Yezirah,and then the creator shall go on to permutate with the divine name (in Idel, 1990, p. 56). Both stages, according to Idel, were probably pronounced. (The details of the permutations and combinations throughout the golem literature are varied and complex, and the topic demands a separate study).

Vocalization is a clear motif in many later formulations.

Here is an example from an anonymous fragment that Idel (1990, p. 96) says has an affinity with the ideas of Abraham Abulafia.

And the essential thing is to be acquainted with the pronunciation of its [?] recitation, since each and every letter is to be recited loudly in one breath, as the spirit of man goes out the person who recites. (in Idel, p. 97)

Apparently, the rabbi's breath is his own living spirit that goes out of him and into his earth figurine where it becomes the living spirit of the clay. In Genesis 2:7, the Lord "blew into...[man's] nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being." In one Jewish source, God created the world by the "vapor of the pronunciation of the letter," and it adds that this is how the rabbi works as well (in Idel, p. 91, n. 3).

Arnold Schoenberg wrote a song-cycle in a modality called Sprechen-stimme where words are broken into syllables and sung as notes. The piece is called Pierre Lunaire or Crazy Pierre. The golem makers engaged in a kind of philosophically based Sprechen-stimme.

Psychologically, breath and sound vocalizations are connected with moods, feelings, and thoughts: They enliven and deaden. George Catlin, the painter of the American West (in an 1861 pamphlet I saw), argued that the breathing of the Indians was more natural and more healthy than that of the Europeans. The "syllablizations" of the rabbis required breathing, perhaps, more like the Indian (e.g., "and when he begins to blow on the first spoonful, he should recite loudly a letter of the divine name with one breath..." quoted in Idel from the Abram manuscript, 1990, p. 97). Perhaps, breathing and sounds transformed the rabbi's consciousness of the lifeless matter in front of him and made it seem alive.

It is hard to get into the frame of mind that saw letters as elements and letter combinations as creative principles, but it will be remembered that, in 3 Enoch, "all the sacred names... fly off [God's throne] like eagles...and encompass and surround the Holy one...on the four sides of the abode of his glorious Shekinah." The psychologist would argue that Jewish mystics projected the numinousity of the self onto the Jewish alphabet. The four sides of God's abode are the heavenly aspects of the four corners of the world from which the dust was taken. When the lower and higher quaternities are brought together in the golem work, a transformation takes place.

The letter combinations were alinguistic (and perhaps pre-linguistic), not words of conventional Hebrew. They were not learned from parents but, from dreams and visions.

In the middle of the seventeenth century, the precise arrangement of the 231 combinations of letters was considered an important kabbalistic achievement, attained in a revelatory experience. (Idel, 1990, p. 244)

In a manuscript treatise entitled The Secret of the Name of 43 Letters we find a comment on Job 28:13.

"Man cannot know its order [literally, value], nor is it found in the land of the living." On this the Sages O B. M. said: If man knew...[the Torah's] order, he could create worlds like the Holy One, Blessed be He. (In Idel, p. 67)

This is a veiled expression of dissatisfaction with the Torah, and it implies that the author wanted to leave "land of the living" and find a new Torah. To leave the "land of the living" would be to enter the mountain wilderness, God's kingdom. or, psychologically, the imagination, and have ones own religious or unifying experience. By the use of the Word learned there, a man could imitate God and create and order a universe.

The Word of God, the means wherewith the cosmos was established, is...[in the Prayer of Manasseh, a Jewish apocryphon] interpreted as the Name of God: through God's Word, the Sea was prisioned; through God's Name, the Abyss [equivalent to Tehom] was closed and sealed. (Fossum, 1985, p. 249, cf. the Sanhedrin passage)

The primordial state of the universe is a psychologism for the primordial self, the collective unconscious, before individual consciousness emerged. Forming the golem and bringing him to life represents the birth of consciousness, the "prisoning of the Sea." Symbolically, it is to raise Adam from his primordial form, where he was as big as the universe, to his place on earth as a man: specific and limited, but more conscious. Speaking holy names over the clay mass made it more distinct, made it come alive.

According to Idel, it was a common feature of Jewish magic, stemming back at least to the Sefer Yezirah, that each limb of the body had specific letters associated with it. In the Jewish mystical-theurgical text, the Shi ur Qomah, God is portrayed as a gigantic anthropomorph, and each of his limbs has a name consisting of a group of Hebrew letters, but unrecognizable as a Hebrew word.

In the context of golem-making, letter combinations were to be pronounced over "each limb separately, each limb with the corresponding letter mentioned in Sefer Yezirah." When the worker entered God's kingdom (that is, the collective Jewish "day dream"); and breathed out the names of God that were flying around His throne; and aimed them at, say, the eye of the figure: for that one moment the eye may have "come to life" and looked back--an illusion reflecting the experimenter back to himself.

The golem ritual (assuming there was such a thing in practice) might have been almost indistinguishable from the rites of any pagan tribe. This may help explain how the golem of later legend gets along with Christians: He is not a Jew; he is animated dust; he is what Jews and Christians have in common.

Myth: 3. The Nature of the Golem

From the golem makers, I will now turn to the golem. I begin by noting a parallel between a thirteenth century golem-making technique and a contemporary dream, presented and analyzed by Jung. The technique from the Pseudo-Sa'adyian commentary is, according to Idel (1990), unique in the golem material. For the infusion process, the golem makers

make a wheel and a circle around the creature and they go around the circle and say the alphabets...231 [times]....and every circumference one alphabet, and so three and four [until he does it] 462 times.(Idel, pp. 81-2)

The psychologist will recognize here a symbol of self discovery: Circumambulation of the center of a circle or square (for example, Mount Kailas in Tibet) is a well-known religious ritual.

Moreover, circumambulation is a theme in contemporary dreams. In Psychology and Alchemy, Jung gives a series of mandala dreams and visions of a young European man "of excellent scientific education" (Jung, 1944/1968, p. 42). In one dream there is

a square space with complicated ceremonies going on in it, the purpose of which is to transform animals into men....The people walk round the square....If they run away all is lost....Two sacrificial priests carry in a huge reptile and with this they touch the forehead of a shapeless animal lump or life-mass. Out of it there instantly rises a human head, transfigured. A voice proclaims: "These are attempts at being."(Jung, p. 143)

This is, in essence, a golem dream, and it makes one wonder whether the medieval French recipe might not have originated in a dream (though, I might add the contemporary dreamer very likely heard some form of the golem legend at some point in his life). It is worth quoting part of Jung's analysis of this dream.

Animals are to be changed into men; a "shapeless life-mass" is to be turned into a transfigured (illuminated) human head....The animal lump or life-mass stands for the mass of the inherited unconscious which is to be united with consciousness....
The "shapeless life-mass" immediately recalls the ideas of the alchemical "chaos," the massa or materia informis or confusa which has contained the divine seeds of life ever since the Creation. According to a midrashic view, Adam was created in much the same way: in the first hour God collected the dust, in the second made a shapeless mass [Hebrew: golem!] out of it, in the third fashioned the limbs, and so on.
But if the life-mass is to be transformed a circumambulatio is necessary, i.e., exclusive concentration on the centre, the place of creative change....(Jung, 1944/1968 pp. 144-5)

Myth: 3. The Nature of the Golem: a. The Golem as Simpleton

Even after the transformation of the "confused" mass of dust at the center into a living human figure, most commentators refused to recognize this creation as human. For one thing, "an examination of the overwhelming majority of the texts...[shows that] the artificial man is considered to be a speechless being" (Idel, 1990, p. 264). As one example, in 1400, R. Shimeon ben Shemuel wrote that the creator "cannot confer upon [the golem] knowledge of divine issues and speech" (in Idel, p. 65).

Connected with this is that the golem is often described as a kind of beast of burden. R. Elijah of Chelm was said to have created a golem that "performed hard work for him, for a long period" (in Idel, 1990, p. 207): The golem was "the servant" and R. Elijah was "his master" (in Idel, pp. 209-10). The Maharal's golem, Yossel, had the duties of an usher (Thieberger, 1954, p. 150). And R. Shelomo ben Gabirol was said to have "created a woman...[who] waited on him" (in Idel, p. 233).

The legal status of the golem became an issue in halachic debate. In the above legend, R. Elijah was said to have destroyed his golem when it "grew stronger and greater," and the rabbi became "afraid that he would be harmful and destructive" (in Idel, 1990, p. 209). R. Elijah's grandson, R. Zevi Hirsch ben Ya'aqov Ashkenazi (known as he-Hakham Zevi, 1660-1718), argued that a golem can be destroyed legally, because, though it has blood, it was not "formed within his mother's womb," and so "it cannot be counted among the ten for a holy performance" (in Idel, p. 217). He-Hakham Zevi's son, R. Jacob Emden argued that the golem was less than a deaf man, that "its vitality is like the vitality of the animal, and hence there is no transgression in its being killed. Thus it is obvious that it is just like an animal in the form of man" (in Idel, p. 219). And, in the late nineteenth century, R. Yehudah Asud argued that the golem can be put in the category of a sleeping man whose soul has left his body and so cannot be part of the quorum (Idel, p. 219).

On the other hand, R. Zadoq ha-Kohen of Lublin argued that the golem "is similar to the idolater and not to an animal" (in Idel, 1990, p. 222) and that if the golem "can eat it may [possibly] be added [to a quorum] just as a small child may be counted; and it is possible that it is even aware who is blessed" (p. 223). This suggests the possibility for the author that it is not permitted to kill a golem (p. 222). The impulse to treat the golem as a creature with rights (we may add that R. Zadoq dreamt his view) parallels a more sympathetic portrayal of the golem in later legends where, even if he is a simpleton, he has a name.

It is important to remember that none of the above theorists ever claimed to have made or even to have tried to make a golem himself.

Idel (1990) sums up:

In the classical versions of the Golem, as they were preserved up to the nineteenth century, there are no detailed descriptions of this creature, nor was his inner spiritual universe addressed. No elaborate aesthetic or psychology of this bizarre creature emerges, even from the latest traditional versions of the Golem. It still remains an abstract idea, which serves to put in relief some other topics rather than structuring a Golemic universe in itself.(p. 261)

He goes on to speak of

the absence of any personal data of the Golem in the mystical literature. This being is not a person having any importance in itself, to be described in its idiosyncracy. It has no particular name, its disappearance does not matter even to its human creator....It is merely the result of an experiment without any intrinsic value.(p. 265)

We must also remember that, at the same time, the theorists believed without question in the reality of the golem, a creature in many ways like a man: The golem looked like a man; presumably had the anatomy and physiology and histology of a man; and, presumably, coughed, choked, yawned, sneezed, cried, ached, ate and drank, slept and woke, obeyed instructions, worked and played, saw, smelled, heard, felt, and understood like a man (see, for example, Thieberger, 1954, p. 149). However he was not a man because he could not speak and did not have "knowledge of divine issues." Also, it was the unanimous opinion, since the thirteenth century, that the golem could not procreate (Idel, 1990, p. 234). He was not a man, and, therefore, he was not a Jew.

The above evaluations (whether sympathetic or unsympathetic) are based on a particular point of view: that of the philosopher-rabbi who values rational speech and thought as the essence of a man. A dancer (or a prophet) might evaluate the golem differently. That literary authors saw the more human side in the golem need not reflect, as Scholem (1974, p. 354) suggested, a contamination of the popular legend, as much as an expression of it from the angle of the poetic mind.

The psychologist, too, has a right to wonder about the golem's point of view, and the fact that the golem's inner life was not described in rabbinic literature is not surprising, since he was not valued except for his physical work.

We may speculate: The golem is like a man who has become separated from his wife and children and who then realizes he cannot find his car or his wallet either. He roams the streets, lost, and realizes he is like the homeless laughing together on the corner. (Golem, in popular speech, means a loner or a fool or a simpleton). He comes to understand the view of dust on the ground looking up. He is stepped on and spit on; used if possible; destroyed when necessary.

All the texts agree that the golem has "vitality" (nefesh hayya), but vitality is treated with a contempt that also reflects a bias. People confined in a social role day after day, long for just this pure animal vitality associated with instinct and youth and new life. If a doctor could create the life force of a young calf (one form of the golem) in his patients, this would not only be a sort of miracle, but would also be financially lucrative for him. In the Sefer Hayyim, we read that "Mikhah made the golden calf that could dance [italics added]" (in Idel, 1990, p. 88).

Even more, my reading of one text from the circle of Abraham Abulafia (in Idel, 1990, p. 105) is that the golem is immortal: "If a man creates many souls, lasting for ever [italics added], it [this spiritual creation] is more elevated than the creation of bodies, generated for an hour and corrupted immediately." If I am right, the author thinks it is possible to create an eternal golem, albeit not an eternal physical golem (cf. the golem as the "celestial body," Idel, p. 290 and the golem as the "astral body," Idel, appendix A). Finally, in this context, I will cite R. Zadoq's view, as formulated by Idel (p. 249), that "the act of creation is basically the structuring of the divine vitality, as found in man, by the recitation of the combination of letters."

The prejudice against the golem is based on the fear of the collective unconscious and of what the individuation process does to a person.

Much of what can be said about the golem can be said about the East Indian mystic who has moved outside society, to sit alone on a mountain, without women, and without speech or thought. This mystic, when judged by society, would look rather like a golem.

And what can be said of the golem can be said of the man who made the golem. The master steps out of his role in society in order to create. To create a golem, he must become a golem. At the exact moment he becomes the highest (the Divine Man), he has created the lowest (the Simpleton). He does not use natural magic or science or rational philosophy but cleaves to the Divine Intellect and the Righteousness of God (an act of no intrinsic value from the point of view of society). This may be, as R. Isaac says of Jeremiah, to attain to the degree of the angels Metatron or Sandalfon (in Idel, 1990, p. 109), but, from another angle, it is to become a speechless simpleton; a lonely one away from family and sex and lucrative work; a man asleep; a dangerous one who can be destroyed by the mob: in short, a golem. At the exact moment the master becomes like God Himself, in that exact moment a golem comes to life, and it is he himself he is seeing when he looks at this other "man"; it is he himself reflected back as from a mirror--his unconscious and shadowy aspect, visible to all but himself, projected out on matter for him to see. The master steps out of society and becomes God and golem in the exact same moment and by virtue of the exact same act. The golem is the new man (homo nouus, from the Christian Kabbalist, Johannes Reuchlin, in Idel, 1990, p. 178). He is the new man the golem maker has become in order to create the golem. The golem is the transformed golem maker, projected out as the simpleton shadow of the Divine Man.

Abraham Abulafia suggested that, because of the revelation at Sinai, all Jews have the secret of the divine name and, therefore, the power to create a golem. The other way of looking at this ability, from the Christian point of view, would be that all Jews are potentially simpleton golems whose destruction is of no moral consequence.

The Myth: 3. The Nature of the Golem: b. The Golem as a Divine Being

As the transformed golem-maker may be a Man of God and a dangerous fool at the same time, there are also two aspects of the golem. Not all writers stressed his simpleton aspect. According to Idel, R. Isaac expressed the most radical view which implies "that the magically created man has the highest spiritual capacity, which is not to be found, automatically, even in a normally created man." Idel continues, "Moreover, the artificially created anthropoid comprises [for R. Isaac] the whole range of creation, and therefore it is parallel to the divine creation of the world" (1990, p. 110). This corresponds to the midrashic tradition where the whole universe is included in Adam (p. 110) and to Lurianic Kabbalah, where "'Adam Qadmon, the Primeval Man, includes the whole range of worlds, and is the creation of an anthropoid" (p. 111). Here, the golem is on the level of Adam and of Adam Qadmon.

In Samaritan literature we find the idea that, in the burning bush, God announced to Moses that he is to be vested with prophethood and with the divine name, and later God says explicitly to Moses, "I have vested you with My Name" (from Memar Marqa 1.1, quoted in Fossum, 1985, p. 87; for other examples from this interesting text, p. 87 f.). Fossum quotes the following passage in arguing that this divine name is the Tetragrammaton:

On the day when Adam vested himself with the image..., Moses vested himself...with the splendour of the first light and the crown...on the four sides of which is written [I am that I am, i.e., YHVH].(in Fossum, p. 90)

Fossum says that this coronation and investiture imply that Moses "was in some sense a divine being" (p. 93) (note the two quaternities in this quote). Marqa, Fossum continues, expressed "the well-known idea that Adam had a luminous body (before the fall)" and that "Moses was endowed with the identical glorious body as Adam" (pp. 93-4). This could be seen as Moses descended from Sinai (Ex. 34:29 ff.).

Thus, we can conclude that Moses' investiture and coronation, which usually were connected with his ascension of Mt. Sinai, were seen "not only as a heavenly enthronement, but also as a restoration of the glory lost by Adam." The possession of this glory was conceived of as a sharing of God's own Name, i.e., the divine name.(quote from Meeks, in Fossum, p. 94)

It seems that, in the gnostic Gospel of Philip, Jesus was also invested with the name of God (Fossum, 1985, p. 95). Further, the Gnostic elect obtained the divine name in an initiation, and "it appears that the possession of this Name was symbolized by some sort of mark on the body" (p. 98). Similarly for the group behind the Odes of Solomon who seem "to have bestowed some 'sign' or 'seal' of the Name on the initiand" (p. 99). The divine name was also used as a seal on the forehead of the initiand during baptism in the Mandean sect (pp. 99-100). Fossum adds that,

the practice of setting a seal or sign of the Name upon the forehead of the elect is witnessed already in the Bible. In Ez. ix.4, we read that God caused a mark to be set upon the forehead of the righteous; this sign was the Tau, the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet originally written in the form of a cross (+ or x) [a form that goes back at least to the Late Bronze Age], which marked its bearer as YHWH's property and protegee. This sign was used at a later time by those who conceived of themselves as belonging to the eschatological community.(Fossum, p. 100)

In the Christian Revelation, God marks or "brands" (seals) the believers with His name on their foreheads. Fossum says that this mark is "either the Tetragrammaton or its symbol in the form of a cross" (p. 101). In the Syriac-speaking Church "whose roots are to be sought in Palestinian Jewish Christianity, the seal or sign of the cross...had retained its significance as an emblem of the Divine Name" (p. 101). I conclude this summary by mentioning that the phrase "vested with a Name" is "thoroughly Semitic," according to Fossum (p. 105), and so I assume it may, in some way, be connected historically with the golem stories.

In many of our stories the golem has the word 'emet (truth) written on its forehead or somehow attached to it. The Sefer ha-Gematri'ot, which, according to Idel (1990, p. 64), was extant in Ashkenazi circles in the thirteenth century, says that Jeremiah and Ben Sirah created a golem "upon whose forehead it was written 'Emet, as on the forehead of Adam." In The Secret of the Name of 42 Letters we are given a different version of this story. Here, "on his [the golem's] forhead [sic] it was written, YHVH 'Elohim 'Emet [Yahweh, God is Truth]" (cf. the place of 'emet in the stories of R. Elijah, Idel, pp. 208-9). In both these stories, the golem not only speaks, but he also teaches the prophet Jeremiah! I will assume that the version with the divine name (plus 'emet) on the forehead represents a conjoining of the divine name investiture tradition that I just presented with another, unrecorded, 'emet tradition. It is also possible that the 'emet came when someone thought of adding the aleph and mem to the tau of the investiture.

Accordingly, the golem is an initiate, branded with his new and secret name (YHVH). He is God's property. He, like Moses, has been "vested with prophethood and with the divine name." He is "in some sense a divine being," restored to "the glory lost by Adam," and he shares in God's own name and has "the [same] identical glorious body as Adam." He is the Adam of the midrashim who, as golem, can see the future and who contains the four worlds inside him. Psychologically, the four worlds represent the full self, all four psychological functions.

The pre-fall Adam is reminiscent of Isaac Luria's Adam Qadmon which, according to Scholem (1961),

is nothing but a first configuration of the divine light which flows from the essence of En-Sof [the hidden God, the innermost Being of Divinity, the Infinite]....He therefore is the first and highest form in which the divinity begins to manifest itself.(p. 265, pp. 207-8)

Emanations from the En-Sof create the ten Sefiroth mentioned in the Sefer Yezirah. Man and Adam Qadmon both contain the ten Sefiroth and both contain the four worlds: Man, at least in his original form (that is the full self), and Adam Qadmon are mirror images of each other.

From the point of view of this theosophical Kabbalah, the golem makers did not create physical golems, but their experiments culminated in visions of the divine world of the Adam Qadmon (Idel, 1990, chap. 7). In other words, for the theosophical Kabbalists, the golem of the early masters was Adam Qadmon, projected onto matter.

Paradoxically, it is in virtue of the fact that the golem is a simpleton of dust, that he is of Adam's original body and prophetic vision. And the two sides of the golem reflect the two sides of the rabbi.

The Myth: 4. 'Emet

The idea of 'emet being written on the forehead of the golem is one of the most interesting motifs in the golem tradition, appearing in all the modern versions I have seen including the one in the Marvel comic books (see Scholem, 1965, pp. 182-3 for the history of this motif).

There is a Hollywood film called "Crazy People" about an advertiser who decides to write only the truth. His colleagues think he is crazy, and he is eventually interred in a psychiatric facility. Before he is taken away he argues that advertisers should level with the public, but his friend at the agency says something like, "This is advertising. There's no leveling here, you idiot!" The identification here, of telling the truth and being an idiot, is reminiscent of the practice where the king's fool was the only one allowed to tell the truth about the king.

The psychologist knows the healing power of knowledge and self-knowledge, but telling what one sees (except in the consulting room) may be a sign of neurosis, psychosis (of a paranoid type), or even brain-damage (e.g., I treated a compulsive truth teller who suffered from Korsakoff's Syndrome). Dreams and fantasies often reveal a patient to himself or herself in the most startling way. The skill of the analyst and the courage of the patient combine to make a very exciting adventure, but one that often separates the patient from his or her past relations.

The Myth: 5. The Danger of the Golem

Jeremiah's golem warns Jeremiah that he (the golem) must be destroyed "so that people shall not err concerning him [i.e., Jeremiah, and think he is God], as it happened in the generation of Enosh" (in Idel, 1990, p. 64 and see pp. 32-3 for the Enosh story). We may guess that Jeremiah, like today's psychologists, would have been tempted to enjoy such a worship, and his golem (like a wise dream figure) warned him of the danger. There are many other stories about the dangers to oneself and to others in making a golem (see, for example, Idel 1990, pp. 82, 100, 209-10).

If I am right that golem-making, if undertaken at all, would have been an inner work, then the danger is not exaggerated. The danger is of valuing the intriguing and numinous world of the archetypes over the mundane world of people. It is typified by Nietzsche's character, Zarathustra, who does not like leaving the mountain and returning to the market place.

The animation of objects is a well-known phenomenon in paranoid psychoses where walls can have embedded tape recorders and sleeping men can be spying. The apotropaic warning in most of the golem texts to experiment only with one or two others seems a response to the fear of falling into the fantasy world forever and of losing ones objectivity completely and becoming a real danger.

In most of the stories, to destroy a golem, the master must erase the initial letter aleph from 'emet which leaves the word met which, in Hebrew, means death. Psychologically, erasing the aleph reverses the processes described in earlier sections: The golem loses his elect status and becomes an ordinary person with his old name, his mundane body-image, his native language, his lip-service to morality, his superficial wisdom, his delight in pleasures, and his need for lies and self-deception. The divine-simpleton becomes like a strange figure from last-night's dream, reflecting a past reality and a present and future potential of the self.

Concluding thought

The transformation process described in this essay, including its exaltations and its dangers, is found in the inner lives of certain contemporary people, though it is conceptualized differently. When a patient like this enters analysis, the goal is neither to make the person feel like a simpleton nor one of the elect. This would be to encourage consciousness of one side of the self and repression, and hence, projection of the other. If the Divine Person can realize that the investiture with the divine name is not an immunization from petty, even lunatic, tyrannical, and criminal reactions, (for example, when displeased or disobeyed or misunderstood; cf. the reactions of God Himself in Gen. 6:17; 11; 19:13; 20:17-18; 38:7, etc.); and, if the irrational and uncontrollable Simpleton (in psychological terms: the Neurotic) can realize that his or her fear of persecution and destruction is the fear of returning to the dust from the four corners of the earth(to the massa confusa, to the original luminous and immortal body of light, to the group of the elect) and, hence, that he or she can relax and need not continue in a downward spiral of self-centered, paranoid emotions; then there is enough self-understanding to allow a love to emerge that can be recognized as love by external, objective society and by the innermost soul.


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Thieberger, F. (1954). The Great Rabbi Loew of Prague: His life and work and the legend of the golem. London: The East and West Library.

Two Approaches to Understanding Psychology

via reflection on the world
via reflection on one's immediate experience

   the One   the Whole
the Sacred
the Ordinary
feeling stuck
feelings of failing,        of dying
 waking up — feeling reborn
   focusing   on the self
confronting the   unconscious
the whole person
living in multiple       worlds
learning about     the world
feelings of success,     of the good life

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