Disidentifying with an Ego Structure Often Exposes a Sense of Deficiency, Lack or Weakness
All these observations indicate a direct relationship between individuation and the presence of the Personal Essence. More important for our investigation, there seems to be a relation between the experience of the Personal Essence and ego development, although this relation does not seem to be direct and is certainly not an identity or equivalence. We need to understand this relationship in a way that explains in a satisfactory manner the above observations, and is able to answer the two previous questions. We can get a hint of this relationship by analyzing the processes through which students come upon the experience of the Personal Essence. As we have seen in our case histories, disidentifying with an ego structure often exposes a sense of deficiency, lack or weakness, which is sometimes experienced as an emptiness, or more specifically, an empty hole. Allowing and understanding the deficient emptiness precipitates the emergence of the Personal Essence in consciousness. The most important step for our discussion here, and in fact the most crucial in the whole process, is that of moving from identification with part of the ego structure to the state of deficiency. It is clear in all the cases we have given, as well as in the rest of our experience with students, that this identification, although it gives a sense of identity, is also used for a defensive purpose. It functions partially, in fact primarily, to ward off or cover up the deficiency and its painful affects. When the student abandons the defensive posture, the deficiency is revealed.
Pearl Beyond Price, pg. 134
Ego Weakness is a Universal Issue Characteristic of Any Ego Existence
We have stated that ego weakness is a universal issue characteristic of any ego existence, and that psychopathology indicates a severity of this issue. From our previous discussion of ego development and the development of the Personal Essence, it is simple to see from the perspective of the Diamond Approach why this is so. Since, as object relations theory states, ego weakness is due to incomplete or inadequate ego integration and individuation, and since, as we have discussed in great detail, ego development as conceived of in object relations theory is an incomplete process, every ego structure will naturally have some inadequacy. The individuality of ego is not the real, true and final integration of the person. This means that ego weakness will disappear only in the realization of the Personal Essence, the real person of Being. As long as one takes himself to be an individual and a self based on self-image, there is bound to be a basic sense of inadequacy at the core of the identification. Ego inevitably contains a deep, basic sense of, and fear of, inadequacy. This is of course why the development of the Personal Essence ultimately exposes the inadequacy; it is the antithesis of the arising fullness, integrity, confidence and strength of Being.
Pearl Beyond Price, pg. 370
Modification of the Self-Image Can Change a Person's Experience and Action in the World
Whereas object relations theory concerns itself with the development of the psychic apparatus or structure, our inquiry here is into the actual material of the psychic structure, into the ontological aspect of it. What is the mind, what is it made of, and how does self-image determine our perception of it? In other words, what is the mind besides its content? Where does this content exist? One way of approaching the question is to investigate what happens when the self-image changes, i.e., when some of its boundaries are removed or modified. We already know how modification of the self-image can change a person’s experience and action in the world. This is, in fact, one way of seeing the action of any kind of psychotherapy. As some of the boundaries imposed on the individual by his self-image are dissolved, he gains greater freedom of perception and action. For instance, as the “weak” person understands his “weakness,” as he sees its genesis and understands its psychodynamics, this boundary of “weakness” is challenged and gradually dissolves. As the person stops thinking of himself as “weak,” his actions in the world change. In fact, he starts acting in ways that he had never thought he could, taking actions that he had thought only “strong” people could take, or even doing things that he had never thought anyone could do. Anyone who has participated in any kind of therapy, or is himself a therapist, or has experienced or seen a change of self-image, knows this very well.
The Void, pg. 17
Resistance Against the State of Separation
One of the main causes of the sense of weakness is resistance against the state of separation. For one reason or another the individual defends against the state of separation, and for this he must block the presence of the Strength aspect because it will make him feel separate. But blocking it will feel as loss or absence of Strength. This feeling or state of weakness, resulting from repressing the Strength Essence, makes it impossible for the individual to feel the individuated state of the Personal Essence. In fact, many individuals resist the Strength aspect because they feel unable or unwilling to feel autonomous and individuated.