Monday, December 16, 2013

The Holidays and Falling Short of Ideals

Letting go of the way we wish things ideally would be can lead to more human development than the ideals themselves.

article by Lawrence H. Staples

There are many worthy arguments for the existence of ideals. These include the role of ideals as an organizing principle around which people with similar values can gather. Like goals, ideals motivate us.

We would have to be blind, however, not to acknowledge their danger. By definition, when ideals are our guide, we strive for perfection that does not exist in the real world. We strive for something that in the long run will frustrate us and depress us because we will fall short. We will experience failure. Goals are different. Having realistically attainable goals can serve us well.

Real development often requires the sacrifice of high ideals; it often demands that we get real. Letting go of the way we wish things ideally would be can lead to more human development than the ideals themselves. We can’t give up or fail to meet ideals, however, without incurring guilt. I asked a patient what he thought it would take to really satisfy his self-righteous mother, who admired preachers. He said: “In my case I probably would have to become Jesus.” It made me think that Jesus probably is the unconscious model for the goals of achievement for many children. If the child is not to become the savior of the world, he simply is not special enough. It is a terrible burden to feel that one can please or save a parent only by achieving such heights. Failing one’s parents is like failing God, and failing either one brings guilt. Letting go of the need to be a savior can be a daunting task. Once children become aware of the burden they are saddled with, they feel anger—that the goals they are encouraged to attain are for their parents, not for themselves.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

'Guilt with a Twist' Highly Recommended by Midwest Book Review

Guilt can be a bad thing at times, as it stands to prevent people from doing what needs to be done 
—By Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA) 

“Is guilt nature's way of making mankind not wrong one another, even more so than the laws and customs of civilized society? That's what "Guilt With a Twist", the many years' work of a clinical psychoanalyst and Ph.D holder Lawrence H. Staples, claims. Staples argues that guilt can be a bad thing at times, when it prevents people from doing what needs to be done - such as cutting off an abusive family member, or encouraging people to help themselves. A comprehensive look at guilt, "Guilt with a Twist" is highly recommended for community library psychology collections and for anyone who wants a better understanding of humanity's natural moral alarm.”—Midwest Book Review

Guilt with a Twist by Lawrence H. Staples —ISBN 9780977607648

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Creative Soul Revealed

Reviewed by Joey Madia

Eighteen months ago, I reviewed Dr. Staples’s Guilt with a Twist, a book with which I had some reservations. In the case of The Creative Soul (subtitled “Art and the Quest for Wholeness”), a relatively short book (91 pages including the Index), he has expanded on my favorite section of Guilt, dealing with the process of creativity as it applies to mental health and the integration of the Shadow, a core idea in the work and writings of Carl Jung (Staples is a Jungian analyst who trained in Switzerland after making a mid-life career-switch at the age of 50). 


Inherent in the process of integrating one’s Shadow is the first step of acknowledging that it exists and exploring the push and pull of opposites at play within us all. It is this dynamic tension between good and evil, light and dark, loyalty to other and loyalty to self that feeds and fuels our creative impulses. For those whose denial of the Shadow is so deep as to cause a psychic wound, the creative act can also be the healing act.