The Intuition Network, A Thinking Allowed Television Underwriter, presents the following transcript from the series Thinking Allowed, Conversations On the Leading Edge of Knowledge and Discovery, with Dr. Jeffrey Mishlove.


JEFFREY MISHLOVE, Ph.D.: Hello and welcome. I'm Jeffrey Mishlove. Our topic today is understanding our total self. Do we have a forgotten heritage of the mind? Have we lost track of, or even disowned, important parts of our own being? With me today is Dr. Hal Stone, author, lecturer, and therapist. Dr. Stone has written Embracing Heaven and Earth, and with his wife, Dr. Sidra Winkelman, he has authored Embracing Our Selves and Embracing Each Other. He and his wife have also developed a therapeutic process known as the Voice Dialogue technique. Welcome, Hal.

HAL STONE, Ph.D.: Hello. It's good to be here.

MISHLOVE: It's a pleasure to be with you. You know, I remember when I was an undergraduate psychology student, the diagnosis of multiple personalities -- The Three Faces of Eve, and so on -- and these were thought of as very rare and extremely fascinating conditions, rather obscure. Now today, it seems as if we're developing a whole new view of the multiplicity of personalities within us.

STONE: Technically speaking, the term multiple personality still is thought of in psychiatry as a condition of abnormality. They're dealing essentially with a reality of the psyche. The psyche is made up of very, very different personalities. They're called by different names with different people; some people call them subpersonalities, subs; Jung used to call them complexes; different selves; Gurdjieff called them the different I's of the personality. My wife and I refer to them as selves or energy patterns, because they are that also. So the question is, what's the difference between the abnormality of multiple personalities, and what we have discovered to be the reality, which is that we are all multiple personalities? What makes it abnormal? It becomes abnormal when there's no one around to say, "Oh, that's an interesting part of me." So if some part of me takes over in a certain moment and says something, I have a reflecting capability. I can say, "God, that was interesting. Where did that come from?" But the true multiple personality doesn't have that part of him, that reflecting agent that can say that's a part. In fact a friend of my wife who's a psychologist and therapist had a woman call her three different times one evening with three different voices, and the woman had no connection at all to the fact that she'd done that. Literally, the three took over. That's the abnormal condition.

MISHLOVE: In the classical abnormal multiple personality condition, one personality often has no idea what the others are doing, and sort of goes unconscious.

STONE: Absolutely. Well, that's not very much unlike what happens to us adults. Most of us have a fantasy that we are very much in charge of our lives, making free choices and exercising free will. When you begin to work with these subpersonalities, you begin to discover that that isn't the case at all. The reality as we see it is that -- I hate to say all of us, but I have to say it because that's what I believe -- we are all identified with certain selves. Now, in a way that's inevitable. You grow up in the world; you can't be everything. So if you grow up in a family where the family is rational, then you either are going to identify with being a rational person, or you're going to push off and go to the other side and be an irrational person, or an imaginative or an intuitive person. That can happen also. But we're going to identify with certain parts, and we're also going to push off on other parts. So if I grow up in a family where I identify with my rationality, automatically that means that I'm going to disown certain other parts. I'm going to disown my intuition, I'm going to disown my imagination. If I grow up identified with being a powerful person because that's what my father wants, then I'm going to disown my vulnerability. I won't be able to show weakness; I won't be able to show neediness in my relationships, you see. So for every part that we identify with, we have on the other side a system of selves that we call disowned selves, and every one of us, then, is in this condition of being identified with primary selves and disowning other parts.

MISHLOVE: Typically, I suppose, we identify with those parts of ourselves that are consistent with what we admire in ourselves. I would identify with being likable, with being competent, these sorts of things.

STONE: Because those are the values of the prevailing culture. If you grow up in a culture in which fighting and beating people up is valued, then that becomes the primary self, and being nice becomes a disowned self. So it depends on the family, the culture, the historical time. And even in one's life these selves can change. For example, in the consciousness movement, many of us start out as quite conservative, identifying very much with sort of contracted values, and then in the course of our psychological and spiritual work, we change our primary selves, and pretty soon our primary self is the one that says, "You should be more expanded, you should be more expressive, you should be more sexual, you should meditate more." Expansion becomes the primary self rather than contraction being the primary self. So in one's life it can shift many different times.

MISHLOVE: And I gather that typically we tend to disown or push away from our consciousness parts of ourselves that are not valued by the culture -- maybe what we might think of as ugly or horrible, extremely aggressive, or dishonest.

STONE: Well, the selves that are disowned are the selves that the primary system doesn't want around. In our culture, for men vulnerability is a very, very big one. Also another system that is disowned a great deal are the instinctual energies.

MISHLOVE: In other words, inside of every great big bully there is a sissy waiting to come out.

STONE: Oh, there's no question about that. These opposites are always there. So the disowned instinctual energies, which we call demonic energies, they tend to be very disowned. In women, until the women's movement, power was disowned. Women were trained to be loving daughters, essentially, to please the man, and mother to please the man. And they have begun to embrace their power side, as they move out of that particular system of selves that they were identified with.

MISHLOVE: Now, you've used two words here -- embrace and disowned. Could we amplify that a bit?

STONE: Well, the way we think about the evolution of personality is that the first thing we have to discover is that these selves exist inside of us. They're very real, they're very autonomous.

MISHLOVE: As if they were spirits or energies of their own.

STONE: If we lived in the Middle Ages, we would have language that's much more accurate. In the Middle Ages they talked about spirit possession. Literally, when these subpersonalities take over, we are in a spirit possession, but we're too sophisticated in these days to talk about it. The thesis of our work is essentially very simple: we have to become aware of all the selves, and we have to learn to embrace all the selves. That doesn't mean becoming them; it means embracing them. So if, for example, I am identified with being a nice guy -- he's sitting over here next to me, let's say, and that's my prevailing way of operating in life; I'm a nice guy, I like people, I want to please you, I want the audience to enjoy what I'm saying, I don't want you to be unhappy with me. Over here is a very different person. Over here is somebody who says, "I don't care what people think. If they like you, they like you; if they don't, they don't. If Jeff likes you, he likes you. What's the difference? Just be yourself. Say it like it is." This guy says, "Hey, wait a minute. If I say everything like it is, and I share every reaction, I can end up with all enemies. Who needs that?" This guy says, "If you don't say it like it is, and you don't express yourself, you'll end up with a heart attack." See, these characters are at war in us. It's like a car that's being driven by twenty different people. The primary selves are always fighting to be in charge of who drives the car, so if being a nice guy is primary, that part of you always wants to be in charge. It's afraid of your not being a nice guy. So embracing the selves means that you have to find out what are your primary selves. See, if you're raised as a nice guy, how do you know that? How do you know that that's a primary self? How do you know that you're disowning your not-nice guy? Well, there's a very simple way to find out. Who can't you stand? What kind of people push your buttons? What kind of people annoy you, irritate you? What kind of people do you judge? There you have the direct picture of your own disowned selves. I mean, it's literally that simple.

MISHLOVE: Typically, though, a person might say, "Well, that's not me. I mean, I can't stand that. How could that possibly be me?"

STONE: That lets you know what a good disowned self it is. See, this is a normal condition; we're not talking about an abnormal condition. Everyone has selves. Everyone has to be identified with primary selves; there's no way not to. And consciousness means separating from that and learning what's disowned. Let's say a woman, for example, is identified with being a mother. She has three children, so she's identified with being a mother. On her other side is a part of her that hates mothering, but she knows nothing about it. The kind of woman that makes her the most uncomfortable is a woman who is very uncaring, a woman who is very cold, like a businesswoman. Whenever she meets a businesswoman she gets very irritated with that person. Why does she get irritated? Why does she have to judge that kind of person? Because her unloving self is disowned. The part of her that doesn't really enjoy children, that never wanted to have them in the first place, is disowned. Automatically what happens, then, is life brings you whatever it is that you disown.

MISHLOVE: Well, what about the case of a great saint? Mother Teresa spends her whole life caring for the sick and the dying. Do you think that inside of her there is somebody who hates it, who would really just as soon go and murder people herself?

STONE: Well, I don't know what's going on in Mother Teresa, but I would be willing to give fairly heavy odds that she has a considerable system of naughties operating in her. It may be that in this particular incarnation, in this particular life process that she's in, her particular task is to live exactly what she's living. I don't judge that in any way, but I'm no longer naive enough to believe that she doesn't have the other side in her. I have spent thirty years working with people, and I don't have a lot of naivete left about these things. I don't happen to judge that. The fact that I have in me a lot of unconscious selves doesn't disturb me. I just know that they're there, and my task in life is to discover as many of them as I can. The reason that it's very important to discover these opposites, you see, is that only then do I have real choice. For example, if I am writing a book, and I only have my rational, linear mind available to me, that doesn't give me a lot of choice about what I write, or the ideas that come to me. If you make me aware of my intuition and my fantasy life, and I can separate from my mind, now I have a wonderful situation. I have my mind over here, and over here I have my intuition and my fantasy life. I now am able to embrace both of these, OK? I embrace both without being identified with either one. That makes life more uncomfortable, you see. If I'm the woman who has the three children, I now separate from the mother, and I now have awareness. I now have an ego that is aware. I embrace the part of me that loves children, and I also embrace the part of me that doesn't like children, that never wanted children. What this results in is sweat, and my personal fantasy about God is that God loves sweat. God loves people who are able to embrace opposites. It makes life more difficult, it makes life more complicated. Decisions aren't so easy, but at least they come from a place in us that's born of knowing opposites.

MISHLOVE: In this multiplicity of opposites that seems to be the psyche -- one might even think of it as larger than that, a zoological garden of all types of inner creatures of the mind -- in all of that multiplicity, where is the you? Where is the self?

STONE: Well, I can tell you how we think about that, because everybody has their own way of looking at that. When we think about consciousness we think about it as operating on three different levels. Awareness gives me the ability to witness whatever is going on. It's a wonderful gift, as you well know. It means that if I have awareness I don't have to be identified with anything I'm saying. So even as I communicate these ideas to you, my awareness witnesses, and a part of me doesn't have to be identified with what I'm saying. Awareness gives me the gift of not being attached to what I'm saying. Wonderful thing. But awareness isn't enough, because if you're just aware then you never experience anything. So the second level of the definition is experience -- the experience of all of this multiplicity that you just talked about. We are an unbelievable array of energies. I mean, it's awesome what's inside of us. So the second part of consciousness is experiencing these different parts. I may not be able to do all of it this time around, but I do the best I can, and that's the journey that all of us are sharing, because every kind of consciousness work, at some level, is learning and experiencing these different energies. If you're a Jungian, you learn it the symbolic way. If you're gestalt, you learn it the emotional way. If you're transpersonal, you learn it that way. If you're a Reichian, you learn it that way. If you're a bodyworker -- but it's all dealing with all these different energies. So awareness and experience; but we need one more thing. Who's going to put it together? Who's going to figure out how to act? Who's going to make choices? The ego. But that's a little complicated, isn't it, because what we discover in this work is that what we think is our ego is really our primary selves. So if I've been trained as a rational man, and you say to me, "Who are you?" I'm a rational man, until you help me separate from that.

MISHLOVE: In other words, who you are, as you're describing to me, is some potential for pure awareness, separate from all of your patterns and behaviors.

STONE: Well, I am all three of these things. I am an aware ego that is taking advantage of this pure awareness and taking advantage of the experience, and I am not identified with any. I am an orchestra conductor that is trying to learn how to handle this amazing array of energy around me. I am a gardener who learns how to take care of all these plants and feed the animals that are inside of me and that inhabit my nature.

MISHLOVE: And if we use these metaphors -- the orchestra conductor, the gardener -- one gets the sense that to really be the fullest person that you can be, you want a garden that has a great variety of plants all growing, or an orchestra which plays every tone of music for you to conduct.

STONE: Well, it makes life very interesting, and I can't imagine anything worse than a boring life. But some people are aware of a lot of these different things inside, and some people are aware of a great many of them, and I believe that we're living in a time when more and more people on our planet are becoming more and more aware of this fantastic garden and zoo, as you call it, living inside of us. Yes.

MISHLOVE: The classical fairy tales of Western culture often refer to the story of the innocent young prince who goes out on a quest into the world and encounters dragons that have to be slain, and it's the slaying of the dragon that converts or transforms this innocent being into a hero. What does that mean to you?

STONE: Well, every disowned self means that the primary self is sitting on top of another part. A woman once has a dream that she's trying to stuff a fifty-foot snake into a box, and she's exhausting herself doing it. That's a beautiful example, you see, of where the primary self, her rational mind, is trying to keep control over the snake. The snake is her instinctuality. She's exhausting herself, OK? Every disowned self means there's a sum of energy that's not available to us. Every disowned self becomes a dragon in our life, because whatever we disown the universe brings back to us. If you're a powerful business person, and you disown vulnerability, your oldest son will be vulnerable, or you will marry a woman that's ultimately vulnerable, or your German police dog will be totally vulnerable. If you disown power in your life and you identify with love and relationship, then if you're a woman you will bring into your life a man of immense power and immense authority. If a woman can't stand bitchy women, her boss at work will be a bitchy person. The law of the psyche is that whatever we disown, life brings us. If we can step back from that and see the dragon for what it is, we realize that the dragon is really our disowned self -- that that person out there that is causing us all this stress and all this difficulty is really a teacher for us. The longer that we allow disowned selves to remain there, the more heads they grow, exactly like in the fairy tale. They start out with one, they end up with twelve or more. And by the time we're older, these get to be very serious conditions.

MISHLOVE: So there's a sense, if I could return to the metaphor of Mother Teresa, for that woman to have all that energy, to do all the work she's doing, she must have had to confront the disowned part of herself to allow it in some way to release that energy for her work.

STONE: I don't know what she's wrestled with in her life, OK? Maybe she has wrestled with the demons, and maybe she hasn't. There are a lot of people who live their life out of particular archetypes. There are a lot of people who live their lives out of a saintly archetype, a saintly self. There are other people that live their lives out of being a mother. There are others that live their lives out of being heroic.

MISHLOVE: In other words it might be totally unconscious on her part.

STONE: Absolutely, absolutely. It may have nothing to do with her. It may have to do with the fact that she is really identified with a certain system. That doesn't take away from who she is or what she does. But we need consciousness today. I mean, that is our most precious commodity. We can't afford to be sentimental about people that may do wonderful work, you see what I mean? We still need to learn about these selves and what is it that moves people, because if we don't get enough consciousness we pay a big price.

MISHLOVE: You've in effect talked about embracing our disowned selves, and yet how can we do that when we truly find them disgusting?

STONE: Well, you're asking the sixty-four-dollar question. I don't expect somebody to embrace their disowned selves in one hour. But it really is very much like Greek mythology. The lesson that the early Greek had to learn was that all the gods and goddesses needed to be worshiped. If you were a worshiper of Apollo, and he was your primary god -- he had to do with the mind and clarity and so forth -- it was OK for you to worship Apollo and for him to be your favorite god. The only thing in mythology is that if you did not worship Dionysius at all, if you kept him out of the picture, he's the one that punishes you. He's the one that attacks you. The disowned god or goddess in mythology is the one that kills you. That's the principle. So all that means is that you have to build a shrine to every god and goddess. You can have your favorites; you can't leave anyone out. So from our perspective, you see, we say you have to learn to value every self that's in us. That doesn't mean that these disowned selves have to take you over, it just means they have to be valued; you have to build a shrine to them.

MISHLOVE: You're not implying permissiveness here.

STONE: Oh no, no, no, no; because -- well, as a matter of fact, I think that one of the major problems of the consciousness movement is that it has been too permissive. It has moved people from contraction to expansion. It has moved people from a condition of being more conservative to being identified with being more liberal. And what I say is we have to step back from those two conditions into a condition of awareness, and with an aware ego we embrace the conservative part of ourselves, and we embrace the liberal part of ourselves, and if we can hold the tension of those two parts, then we have a much better opportunity to make real choices for ourselves.

MISHLOVE: In other words, pure awareness, the possibility of developing an aware ego, is one that sort of steps back from these competing dualities within us.

STONE: Exactly. And you know, a lot of disowned selves -- remember, if I locked you in a dungeon, shut the door, and then opened it eight years later, you would bite me, and I would deserve it, because I have locked you away. These disowned selves are just little pieces of energy; or from my standpoint, God is energy. As far as I'm concerned, all energy is God, and all I'm doing is locking away a piece of God, putting it into some kind of purgatory, so when it comes out it's vicious, and we say, "Oh my God, that's a terrible part." But it's terrible because we locked it away. And when you allow these parts out in a safe setting -- you see, I'm not talking about becoming that part -- when you allow them out, and you begin to pay attention to them, they change.

MISHLOVE: This suggests to me that in dealing with the disowned parts of ourselves, what one might really want to do is strengthen the primary part, in order that it is large enough to incorporate the parts that we formerly thought of as impossible or disgusting.

STONE: Well, the principle for us, the way we approach it, is we always work with people through the primary selves. So for example, let's say that you would have a disowned energy that has to do with being a very selfish, self-aggrandizing person. That's a self that's in everybody. But you're identified with being a proper, nice person. That's disowned, the other one. So we would work with your nice person, and we would spend a lot of time with the nice guy, until you as an aware ego could separate from it. Once you're separate as an aware ego, and you recognize that I really appreciate this part and what he's done for you, now we go to the other side. But you're there as an aware ego, and you're able to appreciate this one and this one.

MISHLOVE: So the process is a little bit like embracing the parts of ourselves that we've disowned, and disowning a little bit the parts of ourselves that we've embraced all our lives.

STONE: In a certain sense it is that, yes -- disowning the parts we've embraced, but disowning them from a new place, with deep appreciation and love. You know, we live in a time when love has become very important, and I have no objection to love as a principle. It feels very good. I like when it comes to me; I like to give it. But if you're going to be loving, you have to do the whole shot. You can't just love the primary selves. You also have to love the disowned selves. If you love and embrace the disowned selves, that takes great courage, you see. But you can't be selective about it.

MISHLOVE: Otherwise there's a sense in which we may even resent having to be loving all the time, having to be nice all the time. Our love loses its authenticity if we can't come from the fullness.

STONE: Exactly. I mean, if somebody is trained to be loving, the danger is you can build a love temple on top of a garbage dump. That kind of loving does not support the evolution of consciousness in the world. We have to deal with the dump also. We have to pick up all these disowned selves and begin to bring them into the light of day and see what they're about.

MISHLOVE: Well, Hal, you seem to be saying that in order to be fully real, we have to be fully whole -- wholly ourselves. We've run out of time, Hal. It's been a pleasure. Thanks so much for being with me.

STONE: Thank you very much.


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