Saturday, March 17, 2012

creative life as manifold order

Have you ever wondered, faced with a definition of a personality disorder, what the correlate order might be? For example, what’s a bipolar order?

Consider the upside of it (relative to DSM-IV): I know very well that there’s nothing inherently problematic about exuberance or elation that extends over a week or more. This is one reason I love vacation periods. Extended “elevation of mood” is a great thing! What becomes problematic is not being able to effectively divide fidelity to the heights from needing to work with persons who can’t share your enthusiasm while intensely needing their appreciation of you (which can be a mistake). If you can keep the heights from intimidating others (i.e., pretend well that you’re as vacuous as the persons you need to collaborate with) and not need their recognition of the value of your inspiration, then you can better make the heights work for you, and not overly concern yourself that it doesn’t work for them.  

 Most persons can’t get creatively enthused for extended periods, so there’s not a lot of guidance in our culture about how to live productively in the bridgeworking. Heights of mind aren’t especially sociocentric, while polite life, the work world, and ordinary society need to be quite sociocentric. Thus, those who haven’t yet learned the bridgeworking extensively enough for the challenges imposed on them (“failing” to a degree that leads to putting oneself in a clinical setting, getting diagnosed) may be easily led to believe that heights of mind as such are part of the problem, rather than the problem being the challenge of bridgeworking. This misconception of heights of mind by clinicians is especially likely because it’s the general business of clinical professionals to return non-coping persons to sociocentric sustainability (rather than to facilitate increased bridgeworking skills), and clinicians may have little experience of well-working bridgework among highly creative persons, let alone engagement with extended creative exuberance of their own. (A clinician might retort: “We’re not the one who expressed need for treatment.” So, they may understand very little about those who don’t need treatment; and the clinician may be unhelpful about learning to live creatively; rather, just: how to become more adaptive, which is vital, no doubt, but not very facilitative of one’s potential. “We don’t intend to be facilitative.” Indeed.)

Also, many clinicians generally believe validly (given most cases that the profession faces!) that personality disorder is something which medication will provide opportunity to control maladaptive symptoms of, while “we work together” to get back to “normal,” which will be a relief to everyone who is intimidated by “excessive” enthusiasm. After all, it’s your “fault” that you didn’t keep it under control, such that you let others’ intimidation or failure to appreciate you get depressive; so, the “solution” is to medicate the emotional stress and get you away from excessive enthusiasm. Fit in better, and you’ll be “happier.” (If you suspect that I’m writing fiction, let me assure you that treatment of highly creative personalities is a specialty, not that I know firsthand. I’ve never needed therapy.)

Likewise, relative to bipolar order, for unusually engaged “goal-directed activity” (let’s not get overproductive now!), fast talk and thinking (let’s not be too smart; it offends others), and undue pleasure in one’s energy level. (Oh, clinician, you think I’m being grandiose?)

All you’re living with may not be helped through clinicians’ senses of “cognitive-behavioral” issues. Firstly, they probably don’t have time to understand the “cognitive” issues, tending to reduce richly-lived issues to what they can “cognitively” deal with in a few sessions (because your insurance only provides for a few sessions). Secondly, clinicians reduce issues of value-based activity (aspirations, engagements) to “behavior” that is to be changed in order to make you better adjusted. They likely don’t know how to help you learn how to balance your Energy (in a word) in a rather dull world. Adjustment’s a good thing! But being induced to devalue, if not shelve, your potential is not a good thing.

So, the lack of constructive support that sociocentric life and clinical management provides can be depressing. You can unduly worry about your ability—in the time constraints you have—to learn the bridgework that you need. It’s your plight in the sociocentric world that leads to self reproach, devaluing, hopelessness—and it’s all so exhausting.

But a bipolar frame of mind toward all this is inaccurate. When a cell divides, there emerge polar gravities for all that’s going on inbetween the emergent poles. All that’s going on between extremes is the manifold that matters: It’s the reorganization of the aspects of the manifold that—for cells (limited trope here)—simply doubles its generative manifold of constitutive aspects; the cell doesn’t become two different poles. Likewise in a life, the manifold generativity of an era of one’s life can tend toward irreconciliable polarities, but it’s the manifold itself which is the basis for learning to employ the polar-tending energies to one’s own advantage without maladaptive extremism (i.e., a matter of manifoldly appropriating the energies that tend toward polar differentiation). The solution to maladaptive energies is not to give up the energies—how depressing—but to learn to channel them all to your own advantage. That can be a long road. But it’s not a road away from mere disorder into a dissolution of the energies that led to disorder. It’s a matter of learning to be pragmatically creative with your high potential.

I’ve learned that the sociocentric presumption of personality as a homogeneous presence is vastly mistaken about the nature of the psyche, relative to creative lives. The mirrors around us would have you translate your complexity into what’s comprehensible to polite life; otherwise, you have a “problem.” Well, yes, you have a “problem”: them. But they don’t know any better, so they have to be politely managed. There has to be a difference between your sense of yourself and the person they enjoy being with (inasmuch as you can sustain the character they want to be with). As long as you need most others’ appreciation of how you see yourself, you’ll set yourself up for frustration and depression. You may increasingly often have to alone love whom you at heart are becoming. Of course, take joy in being genuinely appreciated, when it happens; but anticipate less appreciation from others than you could count on when you were younger (and less individuated). The older you get, the richer becomes your feeling and sense of self; and the more likely that your individuality will be less and less appreciated by others.

So, in creatively-working lives, a bipolar order can be sometimes discerned emerging from the manifold order of balancing everything that you already can balance, facing the ever-recurrent need to balance new aspects of life, and living with the increasing individuality of the challenge.

For decades, I’ve lived with the tragi-comic reality of “critique” in academic life. In fact, most persons are very unreceptive to “critique,” if it bears on their selfidentity, in terms of beliefs, values, and commitments that their life “chose” (and got stuck with, inasmuch as we’re all historical beings, creatures of family history, community history, etc., etc., all commingling into the individuality of one’s life history). So, the effective critical spirit learns tact, and change processes become long-term learning processes: for you learning how to progress tactfully (yet progress) and for others learning to appropriate better views, values, and commitments into their own lives. But “the world” will gladly help you believe that the critic has the problem.

Social life can be a maddening game.