Posteado por: alejandrolodi | 19 marzo, 2010

Astrology and Psychopathology

May De Chiara & Alejandro Lodi 

This article is based on research work that has been done with the contribution of psychologists Eliane Btesh and Gabriela Galland for the module “Psychopathology” of the seminar “Psychology for Astrologers”.
It was presented at the 10th Meeting among Astrologers organized by Gente de Astrología-GeA in June of the year 2006, obtaining the award “Primer Premio Excelencia Astrológica”.

Our starting point is the case with which traditional psychology presents and qualifies psychic disorders, concentrating particularly on the most severe ones: called “psychosis”.
We will try to rehearse some hypotheses about its correspondence with the astrological indicators that refer to the transpersonal dimension of a natal chart.
What is the Psychosis?

Our work is about the most serious structure in psychopathology: psychosis.
This structure is radically different from neurosis and perversion. It is about cases with lower degree of psychic structure. This means that they refer to the most fragile structures and have their psychological complexes (their fixation kicks) localized earlier than in another psychopathological cases. Actually, fixation kicks in psychosis are from the pre-Oedipus phase. That’s why the grade of structuralization is less than in other cases, because in psychosis the principle of reality will be disintegrated and there will be certain loss of unity between the ego and the functions of the ego. In other words, in psychosis, the super-ego never became a strong structure and there is an outline of the fragmented ego. The Id is predominant here.
First of all, we are going to place the conflict in psychosis. If in neurosis, the ego is subjugated by the Id, reality and the super-ego, here the conflict occurs directly with reality. This way, being in the presence of a frustration from the outside world, the Id gets predominant, subjugates the ego and this one disconnects from reality.  Psychosis represents a very severe case, precisely, because the person loses contact with what is real. Psychotics produce a new reality that has to do with the main symptoms of psychosis: deliriums, that is the construction of a new reality, and hallucinations, that is the perception of a new reality. Now, what psychopathological cases are included in psychosis? Paranoia, hallucinatory psychosis, and schizophrenia. Besides these, we will include the maniac-depressive psychosis or bipolar disorder (because of its severeness and the dis-structuralization that it represents, even though this is not a typical psychosis)
Let’s clarify this. We are going to analyze “pathological cases” and not “personality or character characteristics”. Although psychosis is a severe case, it does not mean that any person cannot feel identified with an isolated symptom of that structure, or that doesn’t have as a personality feature any behavior or characteristic that we find in the chart. This way, “paranoid” and “delirious” personality features appear in culture, and that is shared material with which we can identify “from our neurosis”, that means, from a more constructed ego, an ego that is able to give sense to the experience, or – in more astrological words- a solar identity center that can organize experience without being dis-structuralized by the symptom. This is why it is very important to differentiate it from the psychopathological case of psychosis.

Paranoia

Technically, in the paranoia fixation kick is located in the narcissist stage of the libido. We could say that there is a problematic issue with the ego, and it is not a narcissist pathology that has to do with “the image I show to others”, but there is an ego that begins to postulate as a center.
As we said, in psychosis there is a conflict with reality, for which the subject begins being delirious. However, paranoia represents a case of less disconnection with reality, since it is a type of delirium that joins the subject to others. Even though in other psychosis there is delirium, it is the main symptom here and the delirium results more systematized, more organized.
Paranoia is one of the less dis-strucuralized psychosis because there is still an ego that operates in the world and keeps some kind of connection with reality. In paranoia there is an interpretation mania, i.e., that the paranoiac deciphers the meaning of everything: a gesture, a half-opened door, a smile, a dream. The two indicators that characterize this case are certainty and self-reference.
.- Regarding certainty, the paranoiac has no doubts about what he interprets. For instance, he arrives home and thinks his wife “is having an affair with another man”, and even though he finds her alone, or he does not find her, he is sure about what he believes. A neurotic person would have doubts. In neurosis there always exists margin for doubts while the psychotic is certain and this certainty is unyielding.
.- Regarding self-reference. Paranoiac interprets that everything that happens refers to him. For instance, he feels that “the journalist comment on television” refers to him, that “the journalist is speaking to him”. This can make him become someone very dangerous, because you never know what he may interpret. Since he is not connected with reality, he has a very personal and peculiar thinking that is impossible to infer.
The most common delirium is “jealousy passion”. It is about “a love affair situation of two” that becomes into “a love affair situation of three”, where one of the members of the couple is certain that the other is being unfaithful without having true evidence of it or when it does not occur in the fact. Another case is the “erotomaniac delirium”. It is about the person that feels being loved by a famous character. The erotomaniac undergoes different stages: the phase of hoping this happens, the phase of spite and then, the phase of ill will.
There is also the “replevying delirium”. It is connected with the “legal speech” and here the subject is waiting for “being compensated for the damage that someone has done to him”. These people are able to hold legal cases for years, and they are successful precisely due to these characteristics of certainty and self-reference.
The “mystical delirium” has to do with those that believe that they are acclaimed for a sacred task, convoked to be prophets, and that they should wait for the moment to take that place reserved for them. The “mystical delirium” usually happens in late stages of life, when the subject can compensate and that is why it does not result so conflicting and it can be dissolved.

Halucinary Psychosis

It is a more severe psychosis, because it appears in an early stage. Generally paranoia is a structure that breaks out after the age of 30 or 35 years old. Hallucinatory psychosis has an early appearance and, furthermore, the subject is more at the mercy of what happens. The ego is weaker and dis-structured. To this effect, it is very important to highlight that diagnosis of a psychosis is not determined by the symptom, but by the degree of structuralization of the ego. Every person can have psychotic features, because they are within culture and all of us feel identified with psychotic and neurotic features. The difference resides in the grade of structuralization of the ego. For example, structures with an ego that has been able to go through the libido stages and has buried the Oedipus complex, are more balanced structures, more organized, they can bear a crisis without dis-structuring all the psychism and make budding just in one area of life (the couple, for instance)
In the hallucinatory psychosis case, not only there is delirium, but there are also hallucination situations. The subject hears voices, perceives that others transmit thoughts or read his thoughts, he feels at the mercy of others, etc. There is a more passive situation than in paranoia, and the subject perceives things and he does not get the meaning of.
This is a psychosis with more anguish and hallucinations that can be visual, olfactory or gustative. But what distinguishes them is that they have a bizarre touch. These cases are more dis-structuring, and even though delirium also exists, here it gets a fantastic shade of magic or primitive thought.

Schizophrenia

It is the most severe case of psychosis, because of its earlier appearance. This case is characterized because there is a disintegration process of personality that is also called “autistic dissociation of personality”. Schizo means “division”. There is dissociation in all structures, but in schizophrenic psychosis it gets its highest manifestation. The subject is emotionally out of reality. There is no contact with reality, neither by means of delirium, nor by hallucination. He withdraws his entire libido and can stay static and speechless for a long time. Although in human psychism there is always a dissociation between what is conscious and unconscious, here the level of dissociation is the highest. What is dissociated? The emotional part dissociates from body and mind. A body and a mind appear without emotion. The subject is indifferent, seated, speechless. He loses total contact with reality and what can be observed is an emotional emptiness, evident in his body: his face has a grimaced expression of absence of all feeling, he is rigid, like a robot, his movements are blunt and do not respond to the situation he is living.
In schizophrenia the subject is absolutely disconnected. He is a patient like a robot. His language is stereotyped too, and there can be mutism. He does not respond to instructions, he can invert parts of the words or make up words that do not exist. This is the autistic case. They dissociate themselves from emotion. Moreover, they have to be fed because they do not eat. They can hit their head, they are dangerous to themselves and for others they do not have control over their actions. This is the only case in which, even if there is recovery, thought, language and emotion remain affected. In other cases the subject can undergo the crisis and then get back to “normality” whereas in schizophrenia there is damage until becoming insane. Formerly this case was called “dementia praecox”, because the patient became mad and this was an early appearance. It can appear by early adolescence. The case with better prognosis is the “paranoid schizophrenia”, because even through delirium, the patient connects to others. Freud used to say that delirium is an attempt of connection, an intention of restoring a bond and healing.
Something important that occurs in schizophrenia is that the patient loses the union of psychism completely. From the astrological point of view, it seems as if each planet worked by its own, and that’s why we talk about a case of “multiple personalities” or “schizophrenia”. It is a kind of multiple dissociation of personality.

Maniac-depressive psychosis or bipolar disorder

Common bipolar disorder is a severe disorder and we should not confuse, for instance, with a light cyclothimia. The bipolar disorder case is called “circular”, because it is distinguished by having cycles. It has two poles, one maniac pole and one melancholic pole. But we can say it’s an illness only when one episode and the other occur. A maniac patient is melancholic and a melancholic patient is maniac, it is a polarity.
Let’s begin with  the “melancholic pole” or, as it is currently recognized, “depression”. It is not the depression that we commonly use in our everyday language and that is distinguished by mood disorder. In melancholy, there is an energy drop, there is a decrease of available energy. It is distinguished by an inhibition of thr functions of the psyche (language, attention, memory, perception, etc.) and of motor activity. Subject goes slow, he has no strength. All these cases happen with somatic disorders (migraine, fatigue, muscular pains, hypochondria) and if an illness appears it is accepted naturally.
An important point is that there is a moral pain in melancholy: feeling of indignity, self reproach, and blame. This represents a bonus to ordinary depression. Subject blames himself about everything, he feels lacking of any worth, he underestimates himself, he has no strength, he has the sensation of affective anesthesia, it’s all the same to him. He has a deep sadness about everything, he’s almost speechless, he is not able to keep his attention for a long time. In general, he is not able to sustain mental effort in any kind of psychologigal function.
This is why this is a severe case, and it can include permanent suicide attempts. Subject may not eat, not sleep or sleep too much. Melancholy is the most severe depression. On the other hand, the “maniac pole or phase” comes after melancholy, as an energy liberation phase, a pulsional liberation. Here, repression withdraws and that is why it is the opposite to the other pole. There is a state of hyperexcitement of the pulsional psyche. In his motor part, subject is shaken, he can’t stop moving, he is euphoric, he feels complete, with multiple projects, with a high sexual arosement. He can smoke and drink in excess, and may not sleep at all.
In his mind, there may appear many ideas at the same time, there is a fast association, one idea after the other, fluent memories that do not stop. He can be inconsistent in his attention because, he is actually “in his own world” Pulse is altered, even though subject feels he is completely lucid. This sensation of affluence of ideas makes he feel he is “thinking better and more than he did before”
Definitely, subject feels expansive, euphoric, optimistic. Regarding the somatic part, he gets slim, does not sleep, he is hungry and thirsty all the time.

The astrological view about psychosis

As an introduction, we could say that the common denominator of all the presented cases is that there is no basic or elementary structure of the ego sufficiently developed in any of them, where the emotional part, the command of psyche functions and their relation with reality, work as a coherent unit.
Psyche functions represented by personal planets cannot be coordinated, they lack a structural order. There is not a coordinator of personality. And these functions remain altered, thinking is altered (Mercury), ties are altered (Venus), action is altered (Mars), ability for synthesis and making sense of life is altered (Júpiter).
In spite of this, let’s take into account that this mature and solid coordinator center (Sun) is not born alone, it emerges from the development of the lunar and saturnine principles, i.e. having gone through a lunar structure that contained, nurtured, and allowed growing, and then got to know how to develop the saturnine capacity of discriminating from the simbiotic, knowing how to put off wishes and accept limits that come from reality.
In psychotic patients, this basic elaboration hasn’t been done.
If we pay attention, what we work in a therapeutical way in this extreme cases is the possibility of building around him a Saturn-Moon structure that is able to contain him: it may be an institution, psychologist, therapeutic assistant, music therapist, phoniatrist, rehabilitation attendant, family, etc.
In other words, the construction of a whole artificial frame is required to contain and protect patients from the damage that they can cause themselves as well as others. There is a risk of personal damage and on others too, and then, this reality demarcating and containing frame is necessary.
Now, how deep could we go in our astrological focussing?
First, in astrology, planets symbolize functions that are essential to be performed so that a system develops in a healthy way. Thus, considering that every subject represents an organism, planets symbolize those biological and psychological functions that contribute to a correct development as individuals.
Nevertheless, to the effects of the comprehension of psychopatological cases, the clue is to distinguish between personal planets (including Jupiter and Saturn) and transpersonal planets.
The functions of personal planets (including Jupiter and Saturn) make the structuralization of the ego system. In this way, organized in a mandala, those planets symbolize the internal psyche functions that permit the constitution of the ego and its development in social interaction.

We know there are other planetary functions that are not at the service of the personal ego’s constitution, and they even seem to try to disorganize it .
In this sense, transpersonal planets seem to symbolize functions related to generate the possibility that this system structuralized by an ego is sensitive to realities of another order and then can answer to what is beyond the individual and personal experience. Thus, transpersonal planets perform functions of transcendence, expansion and integration with the universe.
It is very illustrative to refer to these transpersonal functions as trans-saturnine, because the idea immediately suggests that they are “beyond Saturn”, that is, beyond the law of shape, beyond the limits  of the conformed structures.
In this way, by definition, transpersonal planets (“trans-saturnine”) symbolize functions that, at the beginning are “disorganizers” of the established way. And it is fundamental to consider that they disorganize the known structure so that the system is receptive – or it reveals – to forms or dimensions that are beyond the closed manner.
Applied to the process of structuralization of the ego, this function of transpersonal planets encloses attraction and danger: the attraction of the expansion beyond the ego, and the danger due to the ego disorganization that this expansion may involve. In other words, they simbolize the attractive part of the spiritual trascendence and the dangerous part of the psychological lack of equilibrium.

Actually, it’s fundamental to distinguish that psychosis cases seem to represent reactions of systems that haven’t developed an integrated ego, before the disintegration of a previously conformed ego. And this perhaps can show a difference between neurosis and psychosis: in the first one there exists a structured ego that gets disordered, while in the second one it hasn’t developed a solid psychological structure.
So, our hypothesis would be that psychosis is a pathological reaction to transpersonal energy, a lack of equilibrium that makes contact with the transpersonal energy and reveals the absence of a psychological structure competent enough to respond to that contact.
Truly, this makes evident that to have access to contact with what is beyond the ego, it´s essential and necessary – even though it may seem obvious – to have developed and structured an ego. Because, if the contact with what is beyond the ego – i.e. with what is transpersonal – happens before having developed a mature personality, this will be irremediably irrepressible.

The key to Saturn – Jupiter pulse

Another hypothesis that we could elaborate is that those structures very sensitive to transpersonal energy are also more sensitive to falling into certain lack of equilibrium, if they haven’t known (or haven’t been able) to organize a mature and structured ego previously.
So, this frontier that Freud indicates in his classical picture of psychopathologies is no other than the saturnine frontier.

This frontier, in fact, is a limit that communicates two dimensions. It is not a dike that must defend itself against transpersonal energy, that should avoid contact with transpersonal energy, but it is a bridge that communicates with transpersonal energy.
Therefore, this limit should have a double quality: being protective of the structure of the ego and, at the same time, in any way permeable and qualifying of the transpersonal experience. We could say that, actually, saturnine function must know how to join with the jupiterian one, and vice versa, and when this does not happen, the system lacks equilirium. This frontier is a saturnine-jupiterian modulation between what must be preserved (a structured ego) and what needs to be receptive to mistery (the longing for spiritual transcendence). So, for us to be  encouraged to access what is beyond the personal, a mature personality structure should have been developed. This would explain why lacks of equilibrium that occur before completing the first saturnine cycle –that is, before the age of 28- result more critical and of a more reserved prognosis, than the ones produced after this cycle.
At the same time, how could it be distinguished if there is contact with transpersonal energy or there’s a psychotic delirium, if there is contact with what is sublime or a dissociation from reality?
Here there is a hypothesis. If that who communicates the experience presumed as transpersonal, acts excessively centered on his ego, we could suspect the presence of pathology. That is, it is possible to have the perception of subtle entities, but if I translate this contact with what is sublime and  numinous as “a message that Virgin Maria gave me regarding a particular mission that I have to communicate to others…”, it is likely that the ego has unconsciously taken possesion of a transpersonal contact. Why? Because the protagonist of a transpersonal contact is not the ego but the transpersonal quality itself.
And this is something that denounces with much accuracy what is appropriate or not in reference to the transpersonal contact. If there is an ego that believes he’s being protagonizing the experience, we can suspect of a lack of equilibrium. And this is related to the autoreferential characteristic that we already described when we analized paranoia.
First of all, the feeling of protagonism results inappropriate to the contact with transpersonal energy. Transpersonal energy refers to mistery. What makes an experience transpersonal is that I cannot have rational certainty of that, that is exactly what I am perceiving. We are in contact with mistery.
In fact, we will never be able to know with absolute conviction and certainty what Uranus is, what Neptune is, what Pluto is. Because of their own nature, we can’t definitely know what those qualities represent, because their functions are to communicate with what is universal, with what is beyond comprehension and –in astronomical words- beyond the limits of the Solar System.
In this way, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are the link of the Solar System with the rest of the galaxy. They have the paradoxical function “within the system” of communicating us with what is “out of the system”, and reminding us our belonging to the Cosmos.

Transpersonal planets and types of psychosis

But, how can we link transpersonal planets with the three cases of psychosis that traditional psychiatry presents? Let’s explore, so, these possible correspondences.
Paranoia and hallucinatory psychosis would seem to respond to a lack of equilibrium regarding neptunian quality. The question here could be: what is hallucination? Was it generated by my mind or is it a subtle way that I effectively perceived?
For example, in a meditation state what is perceived is not generated by the mind of the individual, in the sense that his perception coincides with the perception of all others that practiced the same meditation: all of us perceived the same auditive stimulus, all of us saw something similar, certain brightness, luminosity, etc.. It’s unlikely that it is an image generated by the mind, but rather a state of altered perception that opens levels of greater sensibility. From this expanded perception we’re able to register that which is already present, but that is not perceptible with the sensibility of our ordinary state of perception.
Thus, delirium and hallucination represent a distortion of neptunian energy, an incorrect translation of that, with what the sensitive stimulus of Neptune allowed to get in touch. Neptune doesn’t have the function of provoking confusion or generating hallucinations, but the sensitive opening to the perception of another order of reality.
For instance, thanks to Neptune I can perceive the deficit or lack of love that my couple is having. But, if I translate it as: “so, he has a lover” (jealousy type delirium) I am interpreting in an incorrect way what I perceived correctly; that means, I am constructing an incorrect interpretation of a correct perception. We could also say that because of not having a sufficiently mature structure of personality, perception of an objective situation (“lack of love in my couple”)  is translated in extremely personal and subjective, lunar terms (“he loves another person, he doesn’t love me anymore”)
As fas as schizophrenia is concerned, it was described as an abrupt cut between emotions annulled by one side, and body and mind by the other, and this corresponds with a distortion of the quality of Uranus.

Actually, Uranus is not this. Uranus is the experience of freedom and creativity of the universe, the possibility of perceiving that, in fact, I am protected by what is opened and I am contained in wha is free, I do not need to get myself  into definitive forms to feel protected.
Uranus suggests an experience of difficult acceptance for the human condition: being opened to the possibility that anything can happen and that there’s no way of “reducing the risk to zero”. This is intolerable for the ego that tries to project through the future with certain prediction.
In this way, schizophrenia seems an extreme reaction to this grade of uncertainty that announces the uranian quality. It represents a reaction of cutting or definitive loss of contact with reality, and makes evident how intolerable it is to participate in it, being conscious of this existential uncertainty.
  Lastly, maniac-depressive psychosis is distinguished by “peaks of ups and downs”, where blame, pulsion, impotence and omnipotence appear. Everything seems to associate it to the contact with Pluto quality.
It is true that the behaviour that looks for guilties is making evident the incapability of that ego to support the pain of the experience. Pluto is the function that allows us to recognize the presence of pain as a constituent of reality. Nevertheless, the searching for guilties indicates the non acceptance that pain is part of reality, but that “pain must have someone responsible for it,  it’s a mistake, it’s a deliberated failure”. Looking for someone to blame for the painful fact, denounces the fragility with which the saturnine function is expressing, and that leads to the situation where the individual can’t stand the plutonian intensity that this event is suggesting. 

To conclude, we can say that when having an important and excessive presence of transpersonal planets in a natal chart, the key is to develop saturnine-jupiterian tonicity, to be able to elaborate that disorganization, which, due to its own function, transpersonal planets tend to promote.
Whereas, having the resource of the mandala of personal planets, we could say that neurosis and more common perversions result more accesible to the consciousness and consequently, they represent the typical pathologies of what we could denominate “personal dimension”.

*This article was published in: ISAR Board of Directors, Special Election Issue, Volume 36, Issue 2, 2208.
Translation: Evangelina Sánchez

May 5, 2008

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