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Religions, Values, and Peak-Experiences
Abraham H. Maslow
Appendix I. An Example of B-Analysis
Any woman can be seen under the aspect of eternity, in her capacity as a symbol, as a goddess, priestess, sibyl, as mother earth, as the eternal flowing breasts, as the uterus from which life comes, and as the life-giver, the life-creator. This can also be seen operationally in terms of the Jungian archetypes which can be recovered in several ways. I have managed to get it in good introspectors simply by asking them directly to free associate to a particular symbol. The psychoanalytic literature, of course, has many such reports. Practically every deep case history will report such symbolic, archaic ways of viewing the woman, both in her good aspects and her bad aspects. (Both the Jungians and the Kleinians recognize the great and good mother and the witch mother as basic archetypes.) Another way of getting at this is in terms of the artificial dream that is suggested under hypnosis. It can also probably be investigated by spontaneous drawings, as the art therapists have pointed out. Still another possibility is the George Klein technique of two cards very rapidly succeeding each other so that symbolism can be studied. Any person who has been psychoanalyzed can fairly easily fall into such symbolic or metaphorical thinking in his dreams or free associations or fantasies or reveries. It is possible then to see the woman under the aspect of her Being. Another way of saying this is that she is to be seen in her sacred, rather than the profane, aspects; or under the holy or pious aspects; or from the point of view of eternity or infinity; from the point of view of perfection; from the point of view of the ideal end-goal; from the point of view of what in principle any woman could have become. This fits in with the self-actualization theory that any new-born baby in principle has the capacity to become perfect or healthy or virtuous although we know very well that in actuality most of them won't.
On the other hand, the woman seen in her D-aspect, in the world of deficiencies, of worries and bills and anxieties and wars and fears and pains, is profane rather than sacred, momentary rather than eternal, local rather than infinite, etc. Here we see in women what is equally true: they can be bitches, selfish, empty-headed, stupid, foolish, catty, trivial, boring, mean, whorish. The D-aspect and B-aspect are equally true.
The general point is: we must try to see both or else bad things can happen psychologically. For one thing, if the woman is seen only as a goddess, as the madonna, as unearthly beauty, as on a pedestal, as in the sky or in Heaven, then she becomes inaccessible to the maleshe can't be played with or made love to. She isn't earthy or fleshy enough. In the critical situations in which this actually happens with men, i.e., where they identify women with the madonna or with the mother, they often become sexually impotent and find it impossible to have sexual intercourse with such a woman. This is good neither for his pleasure nor for her pleasure either, especially since making madonnas out of some women is apt to go along with making prostitutes out of other women. And then the whole madonna-prostitute complex which is so familiar to the clinician comes up, in which sex is impossible with good and noble and perfect women, but is possible only with dirty or nasty or low women. Somehow it is necessary to be able to see the B-woman, the actually noble and wonderful goddess-woman, and also the D-woman, who sometimes sweats and stinks and who gets belly aches, and with whom one can go to bed.
On the other hand, we have very considerable clinical information about what happens when men can see women only in their D-aspect and are unable to see them as beautiful and noble and virtuous and wonderful as well. This breeds what Kirkendall in his book on sex has called the exploitative relationship. It can get very ugly both for men and for women and can deprive them both of the really great pleasures of life Certainly it can deprive them of all the love pleasures, which means also most of the major sex pleasures (because the people who can't love don't get the same kind of thrill out of sex as the people who can love and who can get romantic). The men who think of women merely as sexual objects and who call them by purely sexual namesthereby depersonalize the woman as if she were not person enough to be called a human being. This is obviously bad for herbut in a more subtle way it is also very bad for him, in the sense that every exploiter is damaged by being an exploiter. The possibility of being friends across such exploitative lines is practically zero, which means that men and women, the two halves of the human species, are cut off from one another. They can never learn the delights of being fused with each other, of being friendly, affectionate, loving partners, or the like. To sum this up, it means that there are horrors in seeing the woman only in the B way, and there are horrors in seeing her only in a D-way, and clearly the psychologically healthy goal is for these to be combined or to alternate or to be fused in some way.
It is this fusion that I can use as an example of the more general problem of fusing the B-psychology and the D-psychology, the sacred and the profane, the eternal and the temporal, the infinite and the local, the perfect and the defective, and so on.
Seeing the man in a B-way means seeing also his ultimate, ideal possibilities, in Marion Milner's case, as God the Father, as all-powerful, as the one who created the world and who rules the world of things, the world outside, the world of nature, and who changes it and masters it and conquers it. Also at this deep level, Milner, and probably many other women, will identify the noble man, the B-man, as the spirit of rationality, the spirit of intelligence, of probing and exploring, of mathematics, and the like. The male as a father image is strong and capable, fearless, noble, clean, not trivial, not small, a protector of the weak, the innocent, children and orphans and widows, the hunter and bringer of food, and so on. Secondly, he can be seen archaically as the master and the conqueror of nature, the engineer, the carpenter, the builder, which the woman is generally not. It is quite probable that women, when they get into the eternal mood, or into the B-attitude, must see men in this ideal way even if they can't see their own particular man in this way. The very fact that a woman is dissatisfied with her own man may be an indication that she has some other image or imago or ideal in mind to which he doesn't measure up. I think that investigation would show that this ideal was as Milner expressed it and as it is seen also in the direct investigations of schizophrenics of the sort that John Rosen did. Clearly any woman who could not see her man (or some man anyhow) in this way could not use men, would have to disrespect them, might need a man in the D-world, but deep down would be contemptuous because he didn't measure up to the B-realm.
(I should mention that we already have a kind of precursor, a model of the B woman and the B man in the child's attitude toward his mother and father. Through his eyes they can be seen as perfect and godlike and so on. This attitude can be retained by any child who has the good fortune of having a good enough mother and a good enough father so as to permit such attitudes to be formed, i.e., to give him some notion of what the ideally good woman and of what the ideally good man could be.)
The D-man, in the world of trivialities, the world of striving, etc. may not be able to induce the B-attitude in his woman, but this seems to be a necessity if she is to be able to love a man fully. At this deep level, it's necessary for her to be able to adore a man, to look up to him as once she looked up to her father, to be able to lean on him, to be able to trust him, to feel him to be reliable, to feel him to be strong enough so that she can feel precious, delicate, dainty, and so that she can trustfully snuggle down on his lap and let him take care of her and the babies, and the world, and everything else outside the home. This is especially so when she's pregnant, or when she's raising small infants and children. Then she most needs a man around to take care of her, to protect her, and to mediate between her and the world, to go out and hunt the deer and get the food, to chop the wood, and so on. If she cannot see her man (or any man) in a B-way, then such looking up to, respect, adoration, perhaps surrender, giving in to him, fearing him a bit, trying to please him, loving him, all of this becomes in principle impossible. She may make a good arrangement with him, but at a very profound level she will be deprived. If she cannot perceive in him the ultimate, eternal, B-masculine qualities, either because he hasn't got enough of them or because she is incapable of perceiving in a B-way (either one can happen), then, in effect, she has no man at all. She may have a boy, a son, a child, a neuter of some sort, a hermaphrodite, but she has no man in the ultimate sense. Therefore, she must be profoundly and deeply unhappy as any woman without a man must be. In the same way, any man without a woman in the B-sense must be profoundly unhappy, stunted, missing something, deprived of a very basic experience, a basic richness in life.
If the woman (like the prostitutes and call girls that the psychoanalysts have been writing about recently) can have toward men only a D-attitude (because of the defects in their own relations with their fathers), then such women have a hopeless future so far as happiness is concerned. In the same way, the D-men who see women only in a D-way can have only a half-life. The D-woman or the woman who can see men only in a D-way can have no relationship to a man except to exploit him, and this will make for the expected consequences of enmity and hatred across the sex lines.
If the woman can see her man only as B-man, then she too can't sleep with him, or at least not be able to enjoy him sexually, because this would be like sleeping with her own father or a god, etc. He must be sufficiently down to earth so that she isn't too awed by him. He must be homey, so to speak, part of the actual world and not some ethereal, angelic figure who will never have an erection and who won't have sexual impulses, etc. I may say also that a woman whose strong impulse is to see man, her man, only in the B way is shocked every time such a man behaves in the normal, natural, human, everyday D-way, i.e., if he goes to the toilet, if he shows himself to have faults, or if he's not perfect. Since she is apt to be horrified, shocked, disillusioned, and disappointed by his D-behavior, this means that she can never live with any man (any man would shock her and disillusion her, because no man is only a B-man).
The good man, the most desirable we know, is a combination of the B and the D. The same is true for the good woman who is a combination of the B and the D. She must be able to be a madonna, partly; she must be able to be motherly; she must be able to be holy; she must be able to strike awe into the heart of the man, at times; but also, she must come down to earth, and he must be able to see her come down to earth without getting shocked. The truth is she also goes to the toilet, and she also sweats and also has belly aches and gets fat and so on. She is of the earth; and if he has any need to make her of the sky only, then trouble is inevitable.
Now the truth is that any woman, especially to the perceptive eye, to the sensitive man, to the more aesthetic man, to the more intelligent man, to the more healthy man, can be seen in a B-way, with B-cognition, however horrible or dirty or ugly or bitchy or however much a prostitute or a psychopath or a gold digger or a hateful murderess or a witch she may be. The truth is that at some moments she will suddenly flip into her goddess-like aspect, most especially when she's fulfilling those biological functions that men see as basically female: nursing, feeding, giving birth, taking care of children, cleaning the baby, being beautiful, being sexually exciting, etc. It would take a pretty stunted and diminished man not to be able to see this ever. (Can a man who is reduced to the concrete see a woman in a B-way? ) The man who is conscious only of the D-characteristics of women is not living the unitive life, is not seeing Heaven on earth, is not seeing the eternal characteristics which exist all around him. To put it bluntly, such a man is being blind to certain aspects of the real world.
This kind of analysis should teach people to see generally in a more unitive or B-cognitive fashion. Not only should men see the B-aspects of women, but women themselves should occasionally feel their own B-aspects, i.e., they should feel like priestesses at certain moments, feel symbolic as they give the breast to the baby, or nurse the wounded soldier, or bake bread. Once we become fully conscious of this twofold nature of people, we should more often see a woman setting out dinner on the table for her family as going through some kind of ritual or ceremony like a ritual or ceremonial dance in some religious place (ritual in the very strict sense that she is not only shoving a lamb chop into his mouth or feeding his gut but is reenacting, in a dramatic fashion, in a symbolic fashion, in a poetic fashion, the eternal relation between man and woman). Symbolically this is almost as if she were giving her husband the breast out of which comes milk and food and life and nourishment. It can be seen in this way, and she can take on the noble proportions of a priestess in some ancient religion.
So also, with this sensitizing, should it become possible for us to see the man coming home with his pay check as acting out an ancient ritual of bringing home a food animal that he has killed in a hunt and that he tosses down with a lordly air for his wife and children and dependents, while they look on with admiration because they can't do it and he can. Now it certainly is true that it is harder to see the B-man in this aspect of hunter and provider in a man who is actually a bookkeeper in an office with three thousand other bookkeepers. Yet the fact remains that he can be seen so and should be. So also for the awesome way in which he willingly takes on his shoulders the responsibility for supporting his family; this too can be seen in a B-way, as an ancient and holy act. The right kind of education may actually help women to realize these basic, symbolic, archaic, ritual, ceremonial aspects of their husbands and make the husband also feel a slightly pious or holy thrill as he goes through the ancient ritual of entering his wife sexually, or of taking food from her, or of having her disrobe before him freely, or of being awestruck and pious and worshipful as he comes into the hospital where she has just delivered a baby, or perhaps even with the ceremony of menstruation. To pay a bill with money that he has earned, perhaps in some unexciting way, e.g., selling shoes, is actually in a straight biological line with the cavemen and their caring for their families.
Rather than being a local and temporary nuisance, menstruation can be seen as a biological drama that has to do with the very profound biological rhythm of reproduction and life and death. Each menstruation, after all, represents a baby that could have been. This may be seen strictly as a mystery by the man because it is something he doesn't experience, something he doesn't know about, something which is altogether woman's secret. Menstruation has been called the weeping of a disappointed uterus; this puts it squarely in the B-realm, and makes of it a holy ceremony rather than a messy accident or "curse."
For practically all primitives, these matters that I have spoken about are seen in a more pious, sacred way, as Eliade has stressed, i.e., as rituals, ceremonies, and mysteries. The ceremony of puberty, which we make nothing of, is extremely important for most primitive cultures. When the girl menstruates for the first time and becomes a woman, it is truly a great event and a great ceremony; and it is truly, in the profound and naturalistic and human sense, a great religious moment in the life not only of the girl herself but also of the whole tribe. She steps into the realm of those who can carry on life and those who can produce life; so also for the boy's puberty; so also for the ceremonies of death, of old age, of marriage, of the mysteries of women, the mysteries of men. I think that an examination of primitive or preliterate cultures would show that they often manage the unitive life better than we do, at least as far as relations between the sexes are concerned and also as between adults and children. They combine better than we do the B and the D, as Eliade has pointed out. He defined primitive cultures as different from industrial cultures because they have kept their sense of the sacred about the basic biological things of life.
We must remember, after all, that all these happenings are in truth mysteries. Even though they happen a million times, they are still mysteries. If we lose our sense of the mysterious, or the numinous, if we lose our sense of awe, of humility, of being struck dumb, if we lose our sense of good fortune, then we have lost a very real and basic human capacity and are diminished thereby.
Perceiving in this way can also be a powerful self-therapy. Again the truth of the matter is that any woman, any girl, any man, any boy, any child, is in fact a mysterious, wonderful, ceremonial, and ritual B-object. Practically every simple culture makes a big fuss over the woman and her childbearing function and everything that has anything to do with it. Now, of course, their ceremonies over the placenta, the umbilical cord, or menstrual blood, and their various cleansing ceremonies may look ridiculous and superstitious to us. Yet the fact remains that they keep the whole area mythological (archaic, poetic, symbolic); by these methods, they keep it all sacred. Even where the woman is severely disadvantaged by, e.g., menstrual hutswhere every menstruating woman must hide from all human contacts for a whole week, and must then take ritual baths, etc.perhaps even this has certain advantages over just taking the whole matter for granted. Such a woman must think that her menstruation and her menstrual blood can be powerful and dangerous. She must, therefore, think of herself as a pretty powerful person who is capable of being dangerous. She matters, she's important. My guess is that this does something for her self-esteem as a woman. (I remember James Thurber's very funny and yet very touching cartoon, uncaptioned, of a lady with four cute children strung out behind her, meeting a dog with four cute puppies strung out behind her. The two mothers are caught turning back to look each other in the eye, sympathetically, with understanding, with fellow feeling, like two sisters. )
The same thing could be true for the man also, if all his mysteries were taken as true mysteries, e.g., the fact that he can produce erections and ejaculate spermatazoa, that these live, that they swim, that in some mysterious way they can penetrate the ovum and make a baby to grow, etc., etc. There are many myths in which the man in sexual intercourse with his wife is seen as a farmer, as a man with a plow, or as a man who is sowing seeds, or as a man who puts something into the earth. His ejaculation is not then just some casual spilling out of something: it becomes as much a ceremony, a mysterious, awe-inspiring, piety-producing ceremony as any high religious ceremony like the Mass, the Sun Dance, etc. Similarly, it might be desirable if we could teach our young men to think of their penises, for instance, as phallic worshipers do, as beautiful and holy objects, as awe inspiring, as mysterious, as big and strong, possibly dangerous and fear inspiring, as miracles which are not understood. If we can teach our young men this, not to mention our young women, then every boy will become the bearer of a holy thing, of a sceptre, of something given to him by nature which no woman can ever have. We supply him thereby with an ultimate and irreducible self-esteem which is his simply by virtue of being a male, a man with a penis and testicles, which should at times awe the woman and the man himself as well. This B-attitude should help him to maintain a sense of the holy or the sacred whenever he has an ejaculation, and should help him to think of his orgasm in the same way that the Tantrists and other religious sects do, i.e., as a unifying experience, a holy experience, a symbol, as a miracle, and as a religious ceremony.
Any woman who is at all sensitive to the philosophical must occasionally be awed by the great storms of sesuality that she can arouse in her man, and also by her power to allay and quiet these storms. This can be seen as goddess-like power, and therefore may be used as one basis for her profound biological self-esteem as a woman. Something similar can be true for male self-esteem, to the extent that he is able to arouse and to calm sexual storms in his wife.
Such perceptions and awarenesses should be able to help any male and any female to experience the transcendent and unitive, both in oneself and in the other. In this way, the eternal becomes visible in and through the particular, the symbolic and platonic can be experienced in and through the concrete instance, the sacred can fuse with the profane, and one can transcend the universe of time and space while being of it.
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