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Schizoid Defense

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Schizoid Defense?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Schizoid Defense

Defending Against Personal Contact

When we are confronted with impersonality in the course of letting go of ego identifications, if we neither posit it as the ultimate reality, nor reject it, but genuinely investigate the truth, we will ultimately come upon the personal element. The absence of the personal element, which is felt as impersonality, can be seen at such times either as an emptiness in the chest, or the presence of a hard impersonal shield over it. The emptiness is felt as almost physical, as an empty hole or cavity in the chest. The emptiness affects the individual by making him feel that it doesn't have what it takes for him to relate in a personal way. He is impersonal because he lacks the personal element. He feels the emptiness as a deficiency, a lack in who he is. This deficient emptiness is simply the state of the absence of the Personal Essence. The rigid shield is a defense against this deficiency, which gives the individual a sense of being a person that is not personal. In fact, it is what is usually referred to in depth psychology as a schizoid defense. It is a defense against personal contact, because of the vulnerability that it might expose. So the individual employs this impersonal defense of isolation and emotional detachment so that he does not feel either the vulnerability of personal involvement, or the sadness about the lack of it. This condition is much more common than is normally acknowledged, for it is usually hidden by the ego’s sense of being personal.

Defense Against Inadequacy

Another defense against inadequacy, less common than the above two, but related to them, is the schizoid defense of isolation and withdrawal. The inadequacy is sometimes experienced as an incapacity to interact with others, to engage in human object relations. One feels too inadequate and deficient to make contact. Then one defends oneself against this deficiency in relating by abandoning interpersonal relations altogether. One isolates oneself from others, builds a detached wall around oneself, and withdraws deep within.

Splitting Away One's Power

The story of the defense of splitting in relation to Being is a long and complex one. Here we will note only that resolving the primary split in the ego, the split between the bad and good representations, involves integrating the essential aspect of Power. The defense of splitting entails splitting away one’s Power, because it is associated with the all-bad self-representation, and projecting it outside. The result is identification with a self-representation that is all-good but powerless. This all-good, innocent, and powerless sense of self is experienced as confronting a world that is all-bad, hateful, and powerful. In this situation of powerlessness one experiences an excruciating vulnerability in one’s contact with the world, vulnerability to powerful and destructive objects. So the individual resorts to the schizoid defense of isolation (no engagement in object relations) and withdrawal (regression to primitive ego identifications). The defense of schizoid isolation is seen then to be related to the defense of splitting. Working through this defense of isolation, or defensive detachment, is involved in the process of personalization of the Human aspect of Essence, which is related to vulnerability.

The Delusion of Separateness

The specific reaction in response to this painful sense of deficient isolation is to withdraw in an attempt to hide from reality. If you feel small, deficient, and isolated, it means that you feel inadequate to deal with reality, so the reaction of this ennea-type is to want to avoid dealing with reality, to hide from it, to try to separate, withdraw, run away from it, to break off contact—basically to not stay in touch with whatever reality is presenting. This reaction again implies the delusion of separateness, since you have to believe you are a separate individual to believe that you can hide or withdraw from reality. What you most want to get away from is the state of deficiency itself. But when you withdraw and you don’t let yourself experience it, this behavior becomes generalized, and you end up avoiding everything in your attempt to avoid seeing or experiencing any difficulty, pain, or hurt. This reaction escalates into the personality complex of ennea-type Five, with its characteristic emotional withdrawal and deadness, and the dissociation of mind from body. So the core of this ennea-type is a state of impoverishment and the schizoid defense of withdrawal and avoidance. This constellation is one of the principles of ego, part of its internal structure and logic; you don’t have to be an ennea-type Five to experience it. As we have said, we each have all the ennea-types within us since they are the nine differentiated manifestations of ego, although one type will be more pronounced in each of us.

Facets of Unity, pg. 108

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