IIC 97: Unlove of Self: How Trauma Predisposes You to Self-Hatred and Indifference
In this episode, we review the many ways we fail to love ourselves, through self-hatred and through indifference toward ourselves. We discuss the ways that unlove for self manifests itself, contrasting a lack of love with ordered self-love through the lens of Bernard Brady’s five characteristics of love. We discuss the impact of a lack of self-love on your body. I then invite you into an experiential exercise to get to know a part of you that is not loving either another part of you or your body.
“Mourn not the dead that in the cool earth lie
dust unto dustThe calm, sweet earth that mothers all who dieAs all men must;Mourn not your captive comrades who must dwellToo strong to striveWithin each steel-bound coffin of a cell,Buried alive;But rather mourn the apathetic throngThe cowed and the meekWho see the world’s great anguish and its wrongAnd dare not speak!”–Ralph Chaplain, Bars and ShadowsI am Dr. Peter Malinoski, clinical psychologist, passionate Catholic. This is the Interior Integration for Catholics podcast coming to you from the Souls and Hearts studio in Indianapolis, Indiana. This podcast is all about bringing you the best of psychology in human formation and harmonizing it with the perennial truths of our Catholic faith. In this Interior Integration for Catholics podcast, we take the most important human formation issues head on, without trepidation, without hesitation. We don’t mince words. We directly address the most important concerns in the natural realm, the absolute central issues that we need to take on with all our energy and all our resources.We have been working through a series on trauma and wellbeing. It started in Episode 88, and in the last episode, Episode 96, that one was called ‘I Am a Rock How Trauma Hardens Us Against Being Loved’, and that episode we discuss the impact of trauma on how we accept love from others, including God. In this episode, we’re now going to address how trauma sets us up to refuse to love ourselves.Welcome to episode 97 of Interior Integration for Catholics titled ‘Unlove of Self: How Trauma Predisposes You to Self Hatred and Indifference’. It’s released on September 5th, 2022. It is so good to be with you. Thank you for listening in and for being together with me once again. I am glad we are here and that we’re exploring the great unlove of self.The great unlove of self. Sort of like the uncola ads from 7-UP in the late 60s through the 70s, the 80s, even into the late 90s. Unlove of self. What do I mean by that? You might tell me that if I don’t love myself, then I’m hating myself. All right, let’s go with that. Let’s explore self-hatred and self-loathing. Self-hatred. What is self-hatred? Self-hatred is hatred that’s directed towards one’s self rather than towards others. And there is an article titled ‘Self-Loathing’ by Jodi Clark. She’s a licensed professional counselor at verywellmind.com where she says, ‘Self-loathing or self-hatred is extreme criticism of one’s self. It may feel as though nothing you do is good enough or that you are unworthy or undeserving of good things in life. Self-hate can feel like having a person following you around all day, every day, criticizing you and pointing out every flaw or shaming you for every mistake”. Self-hatred, right? This is a critical thing.Brennan Manning said, “In my experience, self-hatred is the dominant malaise, crippling Christians and stifling their growth in the Holy Spirit”. Now, I’m not sure I agree with that. It depends on your definition of self-hatred. I’m more focused on shame and the fear of shame overwhelming the self. Those are such drivers of self-hatred. And you can see that in that in that definition that we just had from Jodi Clark, right. Undeserving of good things in life: criticizing you, pointing out every flaw, shaming you for every mistake. Shame, shame, shame. And Angel Plotner, the author of ‘Who Am I?’, Dissociative Identity Disorder survivor says, “Shame plays a huge part in why you hate who you are”. Shame is so central. I’m going to invite you. I did a whole 13-episode series on shame episodes 37 to 49 of this podcast all about shame and trauma. So, so good to check that out if you haven’t done it already.Eric Hoffer said, “It is not the love of self, but the hatred of self, which is at the root of the troubles that afflict our world”. And Basil Maturin says, “We never get to love by hate, least of all by self-hatred”. So this whole topic of self-hatred, so important, so common, even when people don’t realize it. Even when people don’t realize it because so much self-hatred is unconscious. Laurie Diskin says “We cannot hate ourselves into a version of ourselves we can love”. Self-hatred gets us nowhere. Self-hatred brings us to a grinding halt in human development and in spiritual development.So let’s talk about this. What do we mean when we’re talking about self-hatred? The primary way that you hate yourself is for a part of you to hate another part of you. I’m talking about intra-psychic hatred. Hatred within you, for you, by you. This is self-hatred.So I’m going to bring in an internal family system description of parts. Internal Family Systems is an approach to psychotherapy, and it holds that we are both a unity and a multiplicity. And in that multiplicity, we have parts. And parts are like separate, independently operating little personalities within us. Each part has its own unique, prominent needs, its own role in your life, its own emotions, body sensations, guiding beliefs, assumptions. Each part has its own typical thoughts, intentions, desires, attitudes, impulses, its own interpersonal style, its own worldview. Each part of you has a different attitude or position toward other parts of you, and each part of you has different beliefs and assumptions about your body. Robert Falconer calls these parts, “insiders”. If you want to learn a lot more about Internal Family Systems, check out episode 71 of this podcast titled ‘A New and Better Way of Understanding Myself and Others’. Parts are, in a nutshell, kind of like those little figures in the movie Inside Out. Remember anger and sadness and joy. They’re these little personalities, like I said, within us. And every one of your parts has a very narrow and limited vision when that part is not in right relationship with your innermost self. Each of your parts usually has a strong agenda, something that they’re trying to accomplish; some good that the part is seeking for you. And what happens when parts are not in right relationship with the self–if they’re not working in a collaborative and cooperative way with your innermost self, is that they wind up polarizing with other parts. They wind up getting locked into conflict with other parts. And I gave some examples of polarization among parts in my most recent weekly reflection. That one was titled ‘The Counterfeits of Self Giving’, and that was published, that was sent out on August 31st, 2022. You can check that out at soulsandhearts.com/blog if you want to take a look at that and it discusses how parts get polarized around the idea of giving of self. And I talked about how a compliant surrenderer part can polarize with a feisty protector part within oneself. Or how a self-sacrificer part can polarize with a rebel part. So, I’m going to invite you to check that out, soulsandhearts.com/blog, go back to August 31st, 2022.Now Bessel van der Kolk, in his excellent book ‘The Body Keeps the Score’, devotes all of chapter 17 to Internal Family Systems. This is a really accessible book; I’ve recommended it before to so many non-clinicians. There are reasons why it has been the top selling book on trauma for the last seven years, running. A book like that comes out once in a generation. In 1992, it was Judith Herrmann’s seminal book, ‘Trauma and Recovery’. Twenty-three years later, in 2015, it was Bessel van der Kolk’s ‘Body Keeps the Score’.To examine unlove, right, this concept of unlove. We’re going to contrast unloving with loving. Now Bernard Brady in his 2003 book “Christian Love: How Christians through the Ages of Understood Love”. He gives us five general characteristics of love of agape. He draws heavily from the work of Christian phenomenologists, and I introduced these five characteristics of love in episode 94; that’s ‘The Primacy of Love’. I expanded on those five characteristics of love in episode 95, which was called ‘Trauma’s Devastating Impact on our Capacity to Love’. Those five characteristics: love is affective or emotional, if you prefer that word. Love is affirming, love is responsive, love is unitive, and love is steadfast. Those are the five characteristics of love that Bernard Brady distilled from his historical review of how Christians have seen love through the ages. Love is affective, love is affirming, love is responsive, love is unitive, love is steadfast.Alright, so now let’s break down what happens when one part of you is hating another part of you, right. Love is affective. What that means is that love is emotional. Love rejoices in the beloved. And Protestant Theologian R.H. Niebuhr wrote in his 1977 book, “By love we mean at least these attitudes and actions rejoicing in the presence of the beloved, gratitude, reverence and loyalty toward him”.So there are many positive emotions that are associated with love. Love is more than an emotion, but it has this emotional component. It has this affective component. Often there’s delight, bliss, happiness, a sense of fulfillment, warmth, appreciation.But let’s take a look at what hatred or loathing from one part to another part looks like. How do parts hate each other? Well, self-hatred is also affective. Self-hatred is also emotional, but it’s affective or emotional in a very different way than ordered self-love is. And what you’re going to find in self-hatred is two primary emotions: disgust and anger. One part holds disgust and anger toward another part. And when you have anger and disgust, and you bring those two together, you get contempt. You get contempt; contempt is anger plus disgust.So let’s, let’s have an example here. Let’s say that there’s a fearful part of you that is very frightened of public speaking. It really doesn’t like making presentations in front of other people. And now for your work, you are required to make an important presentation in front of your supervisors and more senior executives within your company. And so another part of you, your perfectionistic part, has led you to rehearse your presentation to the point where you have it almost memorized. Your last performance in front of your bedroom mirror was so good, it was just so good. But now, at showtime, in front of your audience, your fearful part locks you down. You find yourself stuttering and stammering, and then your inner critic gets activated; your inner critic is railing in hatred against your fearful part who is locking you down. That inner critic is saying things like this: “Why are you such a sniveling, frightened little coward? It’s just a simple presentation, dumb ass. We’ve practiced it over and over. We have this down. Get yourself together. This is really important. And you are screwing it up for us. You’re making us look bad. Who knows what will happen if we can’t pull this off? Do you realize what the consequences are going to be?” And the more intense that your inner critic gets in its hateful attack on your fearful part, the more the fearful part freezes. And after the presentation ends, your inner critic continues to bash the fearful part, ruminating about how poor the presentation was, how it looked bad, how we didn’t impress the vice president and so on. Love is affective; love is emotional. Hatred for self is also affective. It’s also emotional, but it’s very, very different. It’s got that disgust, anger, contempt. That’s the first quality. Love is affective. Self-hatred is also affective.Let’s go on to the second quality, the second characteristic of love from Bernard Brady. He says that love is affirming. Love says yes to the other, at the same time that love says yes to oneself. So in the way that we understand parts, this is an open hearted yes to all of our parts. Not just some parts, not just the “acceptable” parts of us. All parts are welcome. All parts are invited to the table. In self-hatred, though, one or more parts attack the unloved part and not just superficially. When they get hating, when those hating parts get hating, they go after the identity of the unloved part. The self-hating parts want to destroy the hating part, or at least banish the hating part from having a voice, from having a seat at the table. In our example, you can hear how that inner critic is trying to get rid of the fearful part, trying to drive that part away, trying to suppress that part with its fear. Now, typical self-hating thoughts may include, “I knew we would fail”, “Why do I even try?”, “I’m a loser”, “No one wants to be around me”, “Look at me screwing up again”, “Why can’t we just be normal?”, “I hate myself”. Those were from Jodi Clarke’s verywellmind.com article.And Richard Bach says, “The worst lies are the lies we tell ourselves. We live in denial of what we do, even what we think. And we do this because we are afraid”. When other people affirm the person who is dominated by a self-hating part, the affirmation doesn’t sink in. The affirmation doesn’t work because the person is all caught up in the self-hatred and can’t hear the affirmation. They can’t take it in. Richey Edwards says, “People say to the mentally ill, ‘you know, so many people think the world of you.’ But when they don’t like themselves, they don’t notice anything. They don’t care about what people think of them. When you hate yourself, whatever people say, it doesn’t make sense. ‘Why do they like me? Why do they care about me?’ Because you don’t care about yourself at all.” Love is affirming and self-hatred is undercutting. It is devaluing.Alright. So let’s go to the third characteristic. Love is responsive. Bernard Brady talks about how love is an active response for the wellbeing of the other. It’s about participating in promoting the highest good for the other, the highest potential for the other. How can I help you to flourish? How can I help you towards your highest good. But in self-hatred one or more parts tear down the hated part. There is responsiveness to the hated part, but it’s not a positive responsiveness. Rather than attuning to the hated part, the hating parts seek to silence it and suppress it, without ever getting to know the hated part. They are not interested in the hated parts experience. Why the hated part thinks like it does or feels like it does, or why that hated part has the assumptions or beliefs that it does; no interest in that. In our example, the inner critic is responsive to the fear of the fearful part, but in a hateful way. It sees the fearful part as counterproductive, as threatening the well-being of the whole person because of the shame that could come from flubbing up the presentation. And so that inner critic feels justified in the bullying and heavy-handed approach that it takes toward that fearful part. Right. Love is responsive. Hatred is also responsive, but in this really negative way.Fourth characteristic of love, according to Bernhard Brady, is that love is unitive. He writes, “The fruit of love is unity. Love unites. It is in the very nature of loving. To bring together.” Hatred, on the other hand, divides. It polarizes within. And we see that; the fearful part and the inner critic are polarized. They are locked in combat. They have no common ground because of that hatred. Hatred fragments us within. It shatters the self. On the other hand, ordered self-love helps us to integrate all our parts, providing space for all parts to be seen, heard, known and loved. Love integrates parts, inviting them into a collaborative, cooperative relationship with your innermost self and with all the other parts. We give this internal unity a special name. I call it interior integration. That is what this podcast is all about: interior integration for Catholics. Love is unitive, and hatred divides. It polarizes within. That’s the fourth characteristic, the unitive aspect of love.The fifth is that love is steadfast. And steadfastness in self-love requires accepting all parts. We have to accept all parts for there to be resilience. Hatred contributes to the inner system of the self being brittle and fragile.Now, I want to emphasize at this point that hatred doesn’t generally come from our innermost self. That innermost self is the natural core of the person, the center of the person in the natural realm. This is who we sense ourselves to be in our best moments when our self is free, when it’s unblinded, not dominated by any of our parts, when our innermost self governs our whole being as an active, compassionate leader. The innermost self is unharmed by trauma, it’s unharmed by attachment injuries, by relational wounds, by negative life experiences. The Catholic Church doesn’t teach John Calvin’s concept of total depravity that we are sinful and morally corrupt through and through. The Catholic Church doesn’t teach that we are snow covered dung heaps like Martin Luther taught. The Catholic Church shows us that we’re still ontologically good; we are still made in the image and likeness of God, even after the fall of Adam and Eve, with original sin in the Garden of Eden. We’re looking to be recollected; we want to have that innermost self govern all our parts, like the conductor of an orchestra leading all of the musicians; like the captain of a ship leading and governing all the sailors. And when we are recollected, when we are in self, we have those eight C’s, the eight C’s: calm, curiosity, compassion, confidence, courage, clarity, connectedness and creativity. And we also have a capacity for kindness. Now, there may be an exception here that hatred doesn’t generally come from the innermost self. It’s possible that if someone has committed the unforgivable sin, blaspheming against the Holy Spirit that the innermost self could hate. The catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1864 says, “There are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone who deliberately refuses to accept his mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit. Such hardness of heart can lead to final impediments and eternal loss.” What happens when somebody blasphemed against the Holy Spirit is that there is this repudiation of life and love and truth and mercy and forgiveness. And that repudiation is irrevocable. There’s hardness of heart. Committing of the unforgivable sin, refusing the love of God permanently. That’s possible, or Jesus would not have warned against it. And when a person is in that place of having committed the unforgivable sin, they are like the walking dead. They’re incapable of engaging with love any longer.Let’s shift now. Let’s talk about what self-hatred means for our relationship with our bodies. Now, remember, we’re body and soul composites. We are embodied beings. And another way for you to hate yourself, or maybe more specifically another way for a part of you to hate yourself is for that part to hate your body. Let’s give some examples of what it looks like when someone is actively hating the body. I’m going to give you four extreme cases. First, Suicidal Acts, second, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, third, Body Integrity Identity Disorder, and fourth, Self-Harm, also called Self-Mutilation.So let’s talk about suicidal acts now. I did a whole series on suicide in this interior integration for Catholics podcast episodes 76-80. A suicidal part is usually desperately seeking relief from intense pain and distress, usually because some fundamental attachment need was not met, and I talked about those in episode 62, or some fundamental integrity need is not met, again, episode 62. There’s something so painful and so wrong inside. It just feels intolerable. A part can be impelled; can generate impulses to kill the body. But it’s not just for the sake of killing the body. It’s again, usually because there’s this desperate need for some kind of relief. That part is seeking a good. It’s seeking a release. It’s seeking some kind of respite from the pain and the distress. Now it’s going about it, if it’s impelling you toward suicide, it’s going about it in an entirely maladaptive and problematic way. Nobody’s justifying that, but one can understand that there’s still a positive intention there.Now in body dysmorphic disorder, we see that there are preoccupations with one’s physical appearance. The person is preoccupied with one or more non-existent or very slight defects or flaws in their physical appearance. And that can lead to verbally abusing the body. This is where a part gets involved in body shaming. A part of you is calling your body fat or ugly, physically unattractive, calling your body out on all these perceived unattractive features–my eyes are too far apart, my lips are too thin, my skin is too bumpy, and what about that zit that just appeared? Right? Body shaming. That’s the first part of body dysmorphic disorder. The second thing is that there are repetitive compulsive behaviors in response to the concerns about one’s physical appearance. So constantly checking in the mirror, excessive grooming, picking at one skin, seeking reassurance, changing one’s clothes, right. Repetitive behaviors. There also can be repetitive mental acts such as a part of you that’s constantly comparing your appearance with that of other people. Getting on TikTok and looking at somebody else’s body, which is so gorgeous and saying, “I’m just a pig”. Ruminating about what others have said about your body, or what you think they might say about your body, what they’re actually thinking about your body. And sometimes that’s just all in the realm of fantasy, but for somebody with body dysmorphic disorder, there’s a part that is just hammering them about the inadequacy of the body. So that’s body dysmorphic disorder.I want to talk about a relatively rare condition, a really extreme condition called body Integrity Identity Disorder or BIID it’s really rare. It’s not well studied. It’s when there’s this mismatch between someone’s body image and the physical body. People who suffer from BIID have an intense desire to amputate a major limb, or sever the spinal cord in order to become paralyzed, or to become blind or deaf. They are so dissatisfied with their body they want to cut parts of it off or they don’t believe that an arm is actually their arm. There’s this, there’s this total repudiation of some part of their body.And then the fourth one is self-harm or self-mutilation. Now, when people get involved with intentional self-harm or self-mutilation, that is so not understood. So misunderstood by so many people. A lot of times self-mutilation is dismissed as something that only a “crazy person” would do. All right, let’s try to make this a little more comprehensible, right. Let’s first of all, remember that self-harm or self-mutilation is a symptom. It’s something that a part of the person is doing to try to help. Let’s talk about what forms that can take. These are common forms of self-harm or self-mutilation: cutting, burning or branding, scalding with hot water, picking at the skin, reopening wounds, severe scratching, carving the skin, trichotillomania, which is hair pulling, head banging, hitting one’s self, biting oneself, poisoning oneself, deliberately starving oneself, and getting into fights. Those are all different ways that self-harm or self-mutilation can happen.And what are the reasons for self-harm? Why do parts do this? There was a recent article published by Norwegian researcher Line Indrevoll Stänickel in the August 2021 Volume of Frontiers in Psychology. It was a qualitative study of 19 adolescent girls who were engaged in self-harm, and she found three super ordinate themes. These are three main reasons for self-harm in these research subjects, who engaged in some kind of self-mutilation. The first one, “I deserve pain.” Second one, “I don’t want to feel anything.” The third one, “I’m harmed and no one cares.” Those are the three things. Those were the three super ordinate themes. “I deserve pain”, “I don’t want to feel anything”, “I’m harmed and no one cares”. Clinicians have identified a number of different reasons for self-harm. I’m going to bring those together. So we’ve had one research study, but I’m just going to give you what a lot of clinicians who are working in this field see. Eight Reasons for Self-Harm.First, there is a desire to release unbearable tension or to provide relief from overwhelming emotions. And there was an article on mind.org.uk with some quotes and there was a quote that said “at times self harm also silenced the chaos in my head, briefly pausing the repetitive flashbacks and the body memories.” Right,so there can be a release from unbearable tension; there can be relief from overwhelming emotions with self-harm. That’s number one.Number two, a desire to regain control. People who self-harm can sometimes experience the sense of being back in control in that self-harm.The third one is to fight depersonalization. Some people feel like they are no longer alive, or that they’re dead. There’s a quote from a client on mind.org.uk that said, “self-harm proved to me that I was real. I was alive”. Sometimes when people cut, it’s to see the blood flow from their limbs that proves that they’re still alive. The blood flowing proves that they’re still alive. They need to see that. That numbness can feel like death. The need to feel anything at all is our fourth one.Fourth–Numbness can feel like death. There’s a need to feel anything at all to pierce the numbness.Fifth, people self-harm as a way of expressing self-hatred. They can feel the need to punish the self. Another client on mind.org.uk said, “I hated my body and blamed it for what I had been through, so I felt it needed punishing”. And Marya Hornbacher, in her book ‘Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia’ said, “I wanted to kill the me underneath. The fact haunted my days and nights. When you realize you hate yourself so much, when you realize that you cannot stand who you are, and this deep spite has been the motivation behind your behavior for many years, your brain can’t quite deal with it. It will try very hard to avoid that realization; it will try in a last-ditch effort to keep your remaining parts alive, to remake the rest of you. This is, I believe, different from the suicidal wish of those who are in so much pain that death feels like relief, different from the suicide I would later attempt, trying to escape that pain. This is a wish to murder yourself. The connotation of kill is too mild. This is a belief that you deserve slow torture, violent death”. Right, that goes back to that first superordinate theme, that Line Indrevoll Stänickel in her qualitative study found–“I deserve pain”. There can be another way that self-hatred plays in here, and that is to blame the body for others actions. For example, if your romantic partner broke up with you, you may have a part that blames your body for not being attractive enough. Or another example might be that a rape survivor has a part that hates her body because it believes that the body attracted the unwanted attention of the rapist. “The body is bad”, “the body needs to be punished”. That’s the fifth self-hatred as a reason for self-harm.The sixth is to express pain–to communicate or share the internal experience to others; to make visible what is felt within. This is where a part is desperately trying to signal what that part is experiencing, how desperate the internal circumstances are. This is that third superordinate theme from Line Indrevoll Stänickel’s study, “I’m harmed and no one cares”. It’s trying to communicate.The seventh reason for self-harm is a way to distract from some worse experience, perhaps terrible emotions inside, or intrusive thoughts. It’s a way to distract the attention from something even worse than the physical self-harm. And that goes back to the second superordinate theme that Line Indrevoll Stänickel gave us, “I don’t want to feel anything”. At least, I don’t want to feel what I’m feeling. That part is doing whatever it can; a lot of times it’s a firefighter part that engages in self-harm behavior. Anything to distract, anything to move our attention away from the intensity of the experience.And the last one is an interesting one. Number eight is an association with others who self-harm. So if your peer group is also self-harming, that can be another reason for self-harm. That could be some kind of bonding that happens in a peer group where self-harming is one of the group norms.So five general characteristics of love from Bernard Brady. We’re going to review those again–Love is affective, love is affirming, love is responsive, love is unitive, love is steadfast.Let’s look at how they contrast with some parts’ hatred for the body. Remember, love is affective, love is emotional, but when parts are hating the body, then you have that disgust and anger. You have that contempt for the body. It could also be fueled by envy of other people’s bodies. Love is affective; love is emotional; parts can hate the body.Love is affirming. That was the second quality or characteristic of agape of love, according to Bernard Brady. But parts who are hating the body are devaluing the body: they’re shaming the body, they’re seeing the body as evil. This is the opposite of affirming. This is a De-facto Manicheanism. Manicheanism was the heresy that believed that all matter was evil, including our bodies, including our physical bodies. St. Augustine initially adhered to Manichaenism for a while, but after his conversion he strongly refuted it, because the body is actually good.The third general characteristic of love from Bernard Brady. Love is responsive, and so authentic self-love; ordered self-love is responsive to the body’s legitimate needs. But in self-hatred toward the body, bodily needs are often condemned. They’re often disparaged.Fourth: love is unitive. What can happen when one part is hating the body is that there’s like this separation of the body from the part. There’s this position that “I am not my body”, “this is not my body”. And again, that’s fragmenting inside. That’s disconnecting parts from the body.And the fifth one is: love is steadfast. When we’re hating our bodies, there is all kinds of internal tension about that. All kinds of conflict, polarizations and that kind of tension in the system is inherently unstable. There’s no steadfastness.Alright, so that’s self-hatred. But you know what? Self-hatred isn’t actually the most common, or even the most important form of failing to love the self. What? What are you saying? Self-hatred isn’t the most common, or the most important form of failing to love the self. “Alright”, you might be saying, “Dr. Peter, what is the most common and most important failure to love the self? What is the great sin against the self, if you will?” I’ll sum it up in one word: indifference. The opposite of love is not hate. It is indifference. The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference. This quote has been attributed to dozens of people. The earliest that we can find it in writing is from a prominent Austrian psychologist by the name of Wilhelm Steckel. In his book, ‘The Beloved Ego: Foundations of the New Study of the Psyche’. It was published in 1921. The quote was expanded and made famous by Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel in a 1986 US News and World Report article where Elie Wiesel said, “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. And the opposite of art is not ugliness. It’s indifference. And the opposite of faith is not heresy. It’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death. It’s indifference”.This indifference is so, so common. We can have parts that are so indifferent to other parts. We can be dominated by those parts and be so indifferent to ourselves and to others. David Mitchell said, “The world’s default mode is basic indifference. It would like to care, but it’s just got too much going on at the moment”. Aristotle said, “Tolerance and apathy are the last virtues of a dying society”. And W Somerset Maugham, the British playwright, novelist, and short story writer, said, “The tragedy of love is indifference”. And then many of you will know Catholic philosopher, Peter Kraft. He wrote in his book ‘Prayer for Beginners’ that, “indifference is more truly the opposite of love than hate is, for we can both love and hate the same person at the same time, but we cannot both love and be indifferent to the same person at the same time”.So let’s get into this idea of indifference. What does indifference mean? We’re focusing on indifference to the self–indifference as a form of unlove and indifference to the self as a form of not loving the self. What does this mean? The biggest form of unlove is indifference. Indifference is an absence of interest in or concern about the emotional, social, spiritual, philosophical or physical life. It is not caring about oneself, disregarding oneself, abandoning oneself, not caring about oneself. Now you might say, “Wait a minute, Dr. Peter, I thought that’s what we Catholics were called to do. Aren’t we called to forget ourselves, deny ourselves, abandon ourselves?”This kind of indifference is different. It’s about being dead or numb to ourselves. It’s an absence of good to ourselves. Evil is the absence of good. That’s the privatio boni–the privation theory of evil. This idea was implicit in some of Plato’s writings; he never stated it explicitly. Plotinus further developed the idea, and St. Augustine really refined it. That was such a brilliant exposition when he said in the ‘City of God’: “For evil has no positive nature, but the loss of good has received the name evil”. Evil is the privation of good. Evil is the absence of good. And that’s what indifference is. We start looking at indifference. We start to see that it is the opposite of these five general characteristics of love from Bernard Brady. Remember, love is affective, love is affirming, love is responsive, love is unitive, love is steadfast. Let’s go through these. Love is affective, love is emotional, but indifference is apathetic. Apathy toward the parts, not feeling anything, not caring about them, not interested in them, parts pursuing their own agendas inside with little regard for the being of other parts. Brian Becker says, “trauma begins in terror, but it ends in apathy”. And Kang Kijarro Nguyen says, “apathy is as dangerous, invisible and contagious as an asymptomatic virus carrier”. Frank Sonnenberg sums it up very succinctly in “apathy is a silent killer”. Love is affective. Love is emotional. Indifference is apathetic. It doesn’t carry an affective valence. That’s the first characteristic.Second characteristic: love is affirming. “The stronger you cling to your armor of indifference, the more it strips you of your humanity.” That’s from Abhijit Naskar, ‘No Foreigner Only Family’. Love is affirming. Indifference is not even recognizing that you exist. That happens when we are indifferent to ourselves. Parts do not recognize that other parts even exist. They may not even know they exist. They’re not interested in other parts. They don’t want those other parts at the table. They don’t want to know. They don’t want to hear. They prefer parts to be exiled, banished, to be not troubling.Third characteristic of love. Love is responsive. But when there’s indifference, Stephanie Roberts in her work, “Rushes from the River Disappointment, says, “there are people capable of eating popcorn at the movie of your agony”. Parts can be unmoved by the suffering of other parts and really unaware of it within. Nina MacLaughlin in her work ‘Wake, Siren: Ovid Resung’ said, “His eyes they held the most and dangerous thing. They held the top of the sins: indifference. Indifference. A vacancy where human care should be.” And again, I want to be clear that parts are not simply choosing to be indifferent. They’re not choosing to be apathetic. They’re not choosing to wear this armor of indifference. They’re not choosing to be unresponsive. Ken Wytsma says, “We may not choose apathy, but when we choose anything other than love and empathetic justice, we get apathy by default.” These parts that are indifferent do not have bad intentions, but they can be so blind about what other parts of us are experiencing. Our innermost self is far more capable of reaching out with care, with compassion, with genuine interest to other parts. But that self, that innermost self can become totally occluded by other parts. Other parts can so drive our bus.Fourth characteristic of love. Love is unitive. But when parts are indifferent, we get fragmentation. John Andrews says, “Love is never fragmented. It is an inseparable whole which does not delight in bits and pieces.” Love is steadfast, but again, polarizations inside lead to tension and instability.Well, let’s talk about what indifference to the self means to the body. What happens when parts are indifferent toward the body? Bessel van der Kolk says, “Traumatized people chronically feel unsafe within their bodies: the past is alive in the form of annoying interior discomforts. Their bodies are constantly bombarded by visceral warning signs and an attempt to control these processes, they often become expert at ignoring their gut feelings in a numbing awareness of what is played out inside. They learn to hide from themselves.”So let’s look at some less extreme passive examples of indifference to the body. These are going to look different than the direct attacks on the body that we saw with self-hatred. Now we’re dealing with parts that are indifferent to the body, parts that are driving the bus. And we’ve all done at least some of these at times, right.First is problematic in eating or drinking. Too much caffeine; somebody’s hooked on energy drinks or coffee. Misuse of alcohol, overeating too much sugar, too much junk food, eating to soothe oneself when upset (sometimes called emotional eating), eating when bored, skipping meals. These are ways of parts being indifferent to the body. Smoking, not exercising at all, getting too little physical activity, maybe too much exercise. Poor ergonomics in the way that your workstation is set up. Overdoing the screen time; 10 hours a day and the computer at work is hard on the eyes. Low activity levels, 9.3 hours of sitting per day is the national average. We spend more time sitting per day than we do sleeping. Allowing yourself to get really sunburned. Now, I am guilty of this. About every three years I get some roaring sunburn because I was not caring for myself. I wasn’t; I was indifferent to my body. Other people get dehydrated, get exhausted, not using the bathroom when you need to. Making poor clothing choices, right. Not bundling up in the winter, right. The guy in the hoodie when it’s 15 degrees out in wintertime, a woman wearing high heels when it’s not a good choice of footwear. Misuse of the smartphone, using your smartphone in bed, poor sleep habits, going to bed too late, misuse of sex, not caring for your body in sexual situations, not getting the medical or dental care for your body that would be good and right. That could be ignoring a treatable condition, ignoring symptoms could be poor hygiene. These are all ways that parts can express indifference toward the body.Right, the five general characteristics of love. Love is affective, right. That indifference to the body is not caring about the body; apathy toward the body; looking only at the utilitarian functionality of the body; seeing the body as a container or a vessel for your mind or soul or psyche. Not seeing that the body was made good. The body was made good. So there’s this apathy toward the body, when we have this indifference.Second thing love is affirming. This indifference to the body can mimic detachment. It could mimic poverty; it could mimic some kind of virtue. But it’s not, because it isn’t a healthy detachment. It’s a disconnection.Love is responsive. That’s the third one. But there’s a lack of awareness about the body when parts are indifferent toward the body and driving the bus. And an extreme form of this is called la belle indifference. The term la belle indifference is a French term which translates to “beautiful ignorance”. And la belle indifference is defined as a paradoxical absence of psychological distress, despite having a serious medical illness or symptoms related to a health condition. So something’s really, really wrong with the body, but the person is blissfully unaware of it. That’s an extreme form. Less extreme form is just again, not being interested in your body, not paying attention.Love is unitive, but when there is a part that is indifferent to your body, that part does not see your body really as part of you. It’s disconnected from your body.And then love is steadfast. Again, there’s not consistent care for the body when there’s indifference. St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 33:16-17 says, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy. And that temple you are”. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells within every Catholic who is in a state of grace. And so we have an obligation to care for our bodies.And now what I’d like to go to is an experiential exercise on this failure to love ourselves. So let’s just start with some thoughtfulness here. We could be getting into some difficult material on how and why we don’t love ourselves. And this is true for every single one of us. You are no exception. You have parts that do not love other parts of you. And so as we enter into this, I’m going to invite you to really pay attention to where you are in your window of tolerance. If you find that you are escalating, that you’re moving into fight or flight, that you’re getting into sympathetic activation and you’re really revving up, or if you find that you’re that you’re falling into a freeze response, shutting down, numbing out, that’s the dorsal vagal activation, it’s the freeze response, I’m going to invite you to stop. To reground yourself, to discontinue the exercise. You don’t have to do this exercise; you can stop at any time. We don’t want to steamroll any parts of you that are concerned about doing an exercise around self unlove; not loving yourself. It’s also good to do this exercise when you have the time and the space and the privacy. This is not something to do while you are driving or while you are working out or engaging in other activities that would require you to divide your attention. This is something that you really want to have special time and space and privacy for. Also, take what’s useful to you from this exercise; feel free to go in your own direction if that seems best. You’re also free to pause the audio and really settle in and do some extended work, if that seems helpful to you. You can have pens and paper and pencils to write down things that are helpful, like in a journal, or to map out things, to draw things, if that’s helpful. And remember, always you can pause the recording at points when you would like to have more time to do your internal work. So as we do this, I just want to invite you to have a lot of gentleness with yourself. A lot of gentleness for yourself. There’s a moment here for you really to care for yourself from your innermost self. Luke 10:27 “Love your neighbor as yourself”. We’re working on loving ourselves in an ordered way, and that means loving the parts of our self that are in need, with that care, and with that compassion. If you happen to get distracted, that’s okay. That’s common; you can just refocus. And if that doesn’t seem possible, then I’m just going to invite you to focus in on that distraction because that’s a part that’s distracting you. See if we can get curious about why a part of you feels a need to distract you. Alright, so I’m going to invite you to just notice what’s going on in your body, as we consider this idea of you having a part that doesn’t love some other part. Some part that doesn’t love some other part. Parts that are in conflict, parts that are polarized. Just noticing if you can see or feel or sense in your body some tension among two parts of you. Some conflict within you. There might be tension in some muscles somewhere in your body could be stomach pain or headache or fatigue. I’m just going to invite you to notice whatever is going on in your body that reflects some conflict or tension, maybe some hatred between parts or maybe some indifference. Maybe the experience is not a bodily experience. It could be a memory, or an image, or a thought or a belief, or maybe an intense emotion. Something that represents conflict between two parts. And that’s what I’m going to call the target sensation. And I’m going to invite you to focus in on that target sensation–that inner experience that reflects some kind of conflict, some kind of tension, some aspect of you not loving you, some part of you not loving some other part of you. It could be some part of you not loving your body; that’s another way. So focus in on that sensation, that inner experience, that target sensation that reflects that conflict between a part and the body or between two parts. And I’m going to invite you to focus in on the part that is not loving some other part of you, or maybe a part that’s not loving your body. That’s your target part. That’s your target part. Your target part might be hating another part of you. Your target part might be indifferent toward another part of you. You might be trying to suppress or silence another part. And I’m wondering if we can be curious if you, in your innermost self, can be curious about what that is all about. Can you really notice that target part, that part that has some kind of unlove toward another part, either hatred or indifference. We’re going to try to work with one part at a time. You can do this reflection, this guided exercise over again with multiple parts later. But let’s see if your parts inside can agree to let you work with just one part that has hatred or indifference. We’re going to ask that one part, that target part not to flood you with its intensity. It’s a safety thing. We’re going to ask that part not to overwhelm you, or to blend with you, or to take you over, but rather to look at you. Your innermost self. To see if you, as the innermost self and that part can have a relationship. We’re looking for that target part to be separate but near toward to your innermost self. Separate but near. See if that part can give you space, and see if other parts of you are okay with you as the innermost self connecting with this target part–this part that carries unlove toward other parts in your system. We’re going to slow things way down now. Really an opportunity to have a big open heart toward that target part, that part that carries unlove. See if it’s okay for you to have a big open heart. There might be some other part that doesn’t want that. That doesn’t feel safe with that. That might not give you the space to have a big open heart. A lot of times parts don’t realize that parts that are hating or parts that are not loving still have good intentions. They’re still trying to help. They’re trying to do what they know how to do, even though that could be really maladaptive or harmful, but there’s still good intentions there. See if your protector parts will allow you, the innermost self, to connect with that target part that has the unlove. And if it’s okay to move forward, just see that part or sense that part. However, that part may be becoming more apparent to you. And to really connect with that part and hear that part’s story. How old is that part? Some parts of us may be phenomenologically, very, very young, even preverbal. Just ask that part how old he/she is. And I’m going to invite you to listen to what that target part wants to share with you. What does that part want you to know? What are that target part’s good intentions? And what is the story that that target part wants you to know? There’s a reason for why it does what it does. There’s a reason for the unlove. If it’s helpful to write down some of that story, you’re welcome to do that. If it’s helpful to pause for more time to work with this part, you’re welcome to pause the recording. And I’m going to invite you to notice how you’re feeling toward that target part with the unlove toward another part. How are you feeling toward that part? Is there compassion for that part? Is there curiosity, genuine interest in that part? Is there a desire to connect with that part? Is there a feeling of calm? You know, if any of those are missing or if there are any negative feelings toward that part, there’s a concerned protector part that is unsure about you connecting with your target part. And I’m wondering if that’s the case, if any concern protector parts could soften and relax back, so that you as the innermost self, can connect with your target part. Sometimes they’ll just give you that space so that you, as the innermost self, can connect with that target part with the unlove. And if not, if parts are just way too concerned about that, too concerned about you focusing on the part with the unlove, that’s the target part. If that isn’t allowed by your protectors, then focus on a concerned protector part. Make that your target part. There’s a reason why that doesn’t feel safe enough right now. Really get interested in why that concern protector is not ready to let you connect with your target part with the unLove. And so just invite you to go back to your target part and let that target part tell you all about what it’s experiencing–what it’s experiencing toward the other part. The unloved part. And what kind of emotions are there. What kind of thoughts are there? How does this target part see the unloved part? What is the conflict with the unloved part all about? Why does that part have the impulses that it has? Why does it try to get you to do what it wants you to do? What fears does this target part have? If it stops doing what it’s doing, what is it afraid would happen? What’s the fear if it stops doing its job? And what does that conflict or polarization between your target part and the unloved part, what does that go back to? Is there something from the past that that conflict connects to–some other situation that your target part is aware of? And I’m just going to invite you to check and see if there’s a concerned protector who is trying to speak for your target part like a spokespart, a part that’s trying to interpret the part’s experience. If that’s the case, see if that concerned protector can soften, if that concern protector can relax back and let the target part speak for itself. See if that would be possible. How is that target part doing now? Are you noticing any changes in your body? Can your target part feel love from you? Does it have a sense of compassion from you? Of connectedness? Of curiosity, of calm? Is it okay for you to show gratitude and appreciation to your part? For what it’s shared with you and how hard it’s tried to help? Its good intentions. And a lot of appreciation from other parts for allowing you to have this space to connect in this way–just a lot of gratitude. Parts all have good intentions. They’re all trying to help.And if it’s helpful, you can do this exercise again with a different part, or with the same part. This doesn’t have to be the end of you connecting with your target part doesn’t have to be a one-off experience. You can check in with that part again. Lot of appreciation for your parts; all your parts are good; all your parts are indispensable.Alright. So thank you for engaging in that experiential exercise to the degree that was good and right for you. And now we are looking ahead. We are looking ahead. This whole episode, we spent time laying out the problem. What happens when there’s self-hatred? What happens when there’s indifference toward the self? What happens when there’s unlove toward the self?Next episode, episode 98, we’re going to be getting much more into what does ordered self-love look like. Now that we’ve covered all the ways that we can fail to love ourselves, we are going to be leaning into what it means for us to be loving ourselves in an ordered way. It’s going to be starting in the next episode. Episode 98 Father Jack Philippe, in his 2008 book, ‘Called to Life’, said: “This self-love is good and necessary, not egoism that refers everything to ‘me,’ but the grace to live in peace with one’s self, to consent, to be what one is, with one’s talents and limitations. Love of God, love of neighbor and love of self grow together and sustain one another as they grow. If one is absent or neglected the other two suffer. Like the legs of a tripod, all three are needed in order to stand and each leans on the others”. I just love that image of the tripod. I think of it as a three legged stool. All three are necessary: love of God, love of neighbor and love of self. All three are necessary.In the next episode, we’re going to bring in some of the work of Dr. Mary Julian Ekman, who is a religious sister of Mercy, one of the RSM sisters. She did a doctoral dissertation on self-love. It’s really, really interesting. She argues that St. Thomas Aquinas believes that self-love is the ground of human action, where the conscious choice to love self transforms self-love into self-friendship. Proper self-love is indispensable for perfecting the human person by making the soul more like God. That’s really, really important. We’ll also get some help from St. Augustine as we explore how disordered self-love regards the self as an end, but ordered self-love sees the self as a means to the proper end of love.I’ve got some exciting news. Ann-Marie Klobe is going to be doing this online retreat for single Catholic women over 35 who are ready to connect deeper with their faith the saints, and to find a godly relationship. This is her ‘Ready for Love’ retreat. So many single Catholics are operating from a place of disconnection. Her goal is to restore their trust in God’s plan for their life and help them feel like they have a purpose in the world and to provide training on topics such as the saints, forgiveness, beauty and trusting in God. They ‘Ready for Love’ retreat airs October 3-17, 2022. And Ann-Marie Klobe, she did an extended experiential exercise with me as part of this retreat. We recorded it and she discovered and explored some hidden reasons that could be obstacles for romantic intimacy. She did some really beautiful work, and she will share that work with the women who attend the retreat. Also, Ann-Marie and I are planning for me to do a 60 minute live Q&A for the ‘Ready to Love’ retreatants, where the women on the retreat can bring their questions to me about any ways that they reject themselves as persons, the ways in which they refuse to love themselves, what it would mean to be married, and about discovering their primary identity as a beloved daughter of God. The website for the retreat is not yet quite up at the time that I’m recording this, but you can go to Anne-Marie Klobe’s website, which is www.anne-marieklobe.com that’s www.anne-marieklobe.com. And I will also be letting you know more about the retreat; I’m going to provide links to it in the weekly reflections that I email out on September 14 and 21. And if you haven’t been getting my weekly reflections in your email, sign up for them. Have them delivered to your email inbox every Wednesday. Go to soulsandhearts.com, click the box that says, “Get Dr. Peter’s weekly reflection in your email inbox each Wednesday”. Those weekly reflections are deep dives that I write each week about critical human formation topics, and those weekly reflections are the written companions to this podcast.Also, I want to bring up the Resilient Catholics Community, the RCC. I am inviting you on an adventure of being loved and of loving. That’s what the Resilient Catholics Community is all about. Check it out, soulsandhearts.com/RCC. The RCC is all about working through your human formation issues, the human formation issues that lead to all the unlove that you have for yourself, all that self-hatred, the indifference to the self, the failures to love yourself in an ordered way, so that you can love with all of your being, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength, with every fiber of your being. It’s about learning to be gentle but firm with yourself. It’s all about integration. It’s all about resilience, and it’s about restoration. Recovering from being dominated by parts that are driven by shame, fear, anger, sadness, pessimism. Whatever your struggle is in the depths of your human formation. We do this work experientially. So many experiential exercises like the one that we did in this episode. So we work not just at the level of the head, but we also work in your heart. And we do the work step by step in a very clear programmatic way. Check it out, soulsandhearts.com/RCC. We open registration for new members every June and every December. I’m inviting you to join me and more than 100 other faithful Catholics on this pilgrimage to better human formation. Get on the waiting list for the cohort that begins in December 2020. Go to soulsandhearts.com/RCC. Sign up for the waiting list. Also, don’t forget, you can always talk with me in conversation hours. Call my cell 317-567-9594, any Tuesday or Thursday from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. EST for conversation hours. I don’t do therapy during that time, I don’t do counseling during that time, but I’m happy to talk with you about the topics that come up in the podcast or in the weekly reflections. And with that, it’s a wrap for today, we’ll invoke Our Patroness and Our Patron, Our Lady, Our Mother, Untier of Knots, pray for us. St. John the Baptist, pray for us.