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Overview of This Issue

by Lloyd Gilden, Ph.D.


Lifwynn Correspondence was first published in print format in Spring, 1990. The editors of that edition, Alfreda S. Galt and John R. Wikse, wrote, "We choose the idea of correspondence because of its dual meaning of written communication and fitting together. This project has grown out of hundreds of correspondents who have written us with concerns, ideas and questions about social sanity and human survival. With this volume, our Lifwynn correspondence is going public--to provide a forum for exchanges between scholars who are interested in exploring the nature of our contemporary social neurosis and to share the results of our research."

While this is the first issue of Lifwynn Correspondence to be published on the internet, our objectives remain the same. It is our expectation that publishing on the internet will extend our readership, and help us to communicate our research to a wider audience. We continue to invite you to join our collaborative network, and your comments and suggestions will be most welcome. Do you agree or disagree with something in this issue? Let us know what you think and feel about the content of any of the articles. This is consistent with a cornerstone of our work, social self-inquiry. To quote Alfred Galt, our former president, "The intent of social self-inquiry is to understand the affective/somatic factors within ourselves--as integral elements in society--that make for hostility and dissociation among us. We want to learn how individuals and groups can move toward direct communication, fellow-feeling and cooperation."

The theme of this issue is The Body of Humanity--Individual and Communal Dimensions. It is inspired by a basic axiom of the work of Trigant Burrow, namely, an innate tendency of solidarity operates within the human species, as in all other species, that "tends to unite and preserve the individuals composing it as a concerted biological unit or group." Burrow believed this species continuum "is the basis of man's social life," but that "we have yet to recognize it within ourselves as an organic principle of consciousness . . . that exerts its instinctive and biological sway . . .within the life of civilized communities." Burrow saw evidence of this innate consonance of feeling in "great humanitarians, the men and women who have seen to the core of life, who have sensed the world's need, and who, because of the vision they have been vouchsafed of some significant truth, have stood ready to toss aside at a moment their own lives for the commonweal."

Mary Alice Roche, a member of the board of directors of The Lifwynn Foundation, in her article, The Body of Humanity--An Individual Experience, provides an excellent summary of many of the basic principles and findings of Burrow's work, including the idea of humanity as one body; the preconscious foundations of human behavior; the dissociative influences of human culture, which result in formation of an authoritarian sense of self or "I-persona;" social research on our dissociative tendencies, carried out in the framework of group analysis or social self-inquiry; and somatic techniques that have the power to liberate us from subservience to our insidious self-oriented bias.

Montague Ullman, who is on the Advisory Board of The Lifwynn Foundation, has written extensively on the role of dreams in human existence. Monte believes our dreams provide us with a means of overcoming behavioral patterns that separate us and, by engaging in the study of their meanings, can contribute to uniting us as a species. His article, Species Unity and Dreaming, focuses on the differentiation of waking and dreaming states of consciousness, the role of the primitive subcortical arousal system in dreaming, the power of human imagination to create powerful metaphoric imagery, and the possibility of authentic interconnectedness such imagery portends.

Maureen Cotter has been affiliated with The Lifwynn Foundation since 1969, acting in the roles of secretary to the president, later a member of The Foundation, and now a member of the board of directors and Secretary/Treasurer. Maureen's article, An Individual Community (The Lifwynn Foundation), gives a first-hand report of the experience of participating in the day to day process of group analysis or social self- inquiry in the work place and in the home, which involves questioning our human tendency to engage in self-serving pursuits at the expense of the well-being and survival of our species. She witnessed, for example, the challenging of the authoritarian prerogatives of employer and employee, doctor and patient, co-workers, and parent and child. Some of the inevitable consequences of human cultural influences, including intense interpersonal conflicts and creative scientific work, are also described. These descriptions provide us with provocative insights into the struggle we face as a species to develop our awareness of, in Maureen's words, "our mysterious oneness."

Mark Filippi, a chiropractor, became a member of The Lifwynn Foundation in the past year. In his two-part article entitled Subluxation As Imitation: A Phylobiological Epiphenomenon he discusses the proposition that subluxation or spinal distortion is "part of a larger pattern of collective, survival-based adaptations common to every human being's ongoing growth and development." Mark makes the interesting suggestion that Burrow's social self-inquiry approach to interpersonal conflict achieves a "virtual adjustment." His papers constitute an extensive discussion of such topics as: Embracing Phylobiology and a "Non-Local" Social Self, Cotentive States and Coherence, Ditentive States and Interference and Accessing and Implicate Order.

In his article, When a Body Meets a Body: Invisible Bonds; Towards a New Cosmicpsychic Politic, Joseph Felser addresses the problem of humanity’s tendency to engage in violent behavior, and argues, as Burrow did, that a crucial step in overcoming this tendency involves our learning to trust "the intangible, invisible, magical bonds that secretly link us all together as a vast communal body." Toward that end, Felser sees the necessity of our removing the inner obstacles that human cultures foster in the form of patriarchical practices, particularly the manner of relating he refers to as answerism. Answerism is defined as "the self-righteous conviction that one possesses the full and final Truth," and clearly identifies the connection between our human propensity for dogmatism and authoritarian and violent behavior . After elaborating on these concepts, Felser sets forth a theory that describes the possibility of "a new attitude, a more direct and grounded experience of life--of nature in all its wild, unmanageable energies. . . "

The project Ralph Ellis undertakes in his article, Spiritual Partnership and the Affirmation of the Value of Being, is description of an adaptive way for humans to find meaning in and come to terms with the finitude of our existence--death, alienation, powerlessness, and relative insignificance in the ultimate scheme of things. Ellis develops the thesis that we can find such meaning in the transcendent value experience--"sharply and directly [experiencing] the intrinsic positive value of life as instantiated in a conscious being other than ourselves. . ." Such admiration, enhanced by compassion for the consciousness of other human beings, pulls us out of our narcissistic, egocentric circle, when one achieves mutual defenselessness and recognition of our finitude with another person, a spiritual partner. Ellis suggests that as this partnership evolves, appreciation spreads to other people and things, and leads to concrete action "in the service of an abstract value system built up from the initial premise that the conscious existence of human beings has intrinsic value and thus ought to be enhanced and facilitated rather than thwarted, perverted or destroyed."

Steve Rosen is a professor of psychology at Staten Island College of the City University of New York and member of the board of directors of The Lifwynn Foundation. He has written extensively on the subjects of phenomenological psychology and philosophy, including a book entitled, Science, Paradox, and the Moebius Principle: The Evolution of a Transcultural"Approach to Wholeness. In his Lifwynn Correspondence paper, Focusing on the Flesh: Merleau-Ponty, Gendlin and Lived Subjectivity, Steve synthesizes the ideas of Merleau-Ponty, Eugene Gendlin, David Bohm and Trigant Burrow into a deeply insightful approach to achieving integration of cognitive and somatic or mind-body processes. In so doing, he suggests how the fragmented relationship between organism and environment that characterizes human existence may be overcome.

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