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John Ruskan's
Emotional Clearing

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from Emotion and Art

The type of distressful emotional experience where we swing between extremes is called manic-depressive illness or bipolar disorder by the psychiatric medical establishment. At this point in time they cannot offer substantial insight into its cause, and treatment primarily relies on drugs, which I consider to be of dubious lasting value. I believe prescription drug use only serves to suppress feelings or delay true healing, but that they may be necessary at times to manage symptoms until other, more valid treatment can gain a foothold.

Although I understand the need for a label to identify this or any syndrome, it’s my opinion that implying that an illness is present is a disservice to the person as well as an impediment to the resolution. Illness is usually interpreted as meaning that something has been “caught;” that it is beyond the individual’s control, and that the “cure” is best effected by outside intervention. Even though the motive behind the labeling of the patient’s condition as illness may be benevolent, in order to try to assuage feelings the patient may have of being “bad,” the subtle shift of responsibility away from self and into a blaming or victim mode – it’s the illness, not me – undermines the most basic healing orientation, that of taking responsibility for oneself and one’s condition. We currently see this distortion of responsibly further encouraged by the medical establishment in the form of a multitude of “syndromes” being identified and blamed for behavior or experience, instead of simply understanding that behavioral acting-out is usually a form of defense from underlying feelings, and that painful inner experience such as depression and even physical disease is the result of unconscious mismanagement of personal psychic energies. Instead of “illness,” therefore, I prefer using the term “cycle” because it implies a more natural process that results in a problem only when handled incorrectly.

In the manic-depressive cycle, we alternate between the two modes: Manic is characterized as high energy, optimistic but possibly unrealistically so, productive but edgy and unstable, easily irritated; depressive is experienced painfully as the loss of energy to function and the will to go on, pessimism and despair. We all go through this kind of cycle; when it becomes severe enough to be threatening to our overall sense of well-being, it has reached the stage of concern.

The first step in dealing with this condition is to take responsibility for it, no matter how sever it may seem, or how much beyond our control. This can be a difficult step, and many people will resist it. A complete reading of Emotional Clearing, which carefully explains the need and philosophy behind taking responsibility will prove helpful. Through a history of mismanagement of feelings, we have ourselves created the cycle we seem to be locked into. We, ourselves, create the manic aspect of the high – the jittery unstableness – out of anxiety of the low. We cling anxiously and desperately to the high, trying to avoid the low at all costs. Often, we add alcohol or drugs or sex to aid in suppressing the negative feelings in hopes of getting to the positive creative experience, but the substance abuse only deepens the lows of the cycle with the backlash depression that comes from the stimulant’s depleting the psychic energy reserves in order to produce the high.

The key elements are that a feeling is composed of a certain kind of psychic energy that must be released somehow, or else it becomes held unconsciously, only to erupt later, demanding to be satisfied; that these suppressed energies can build to tremendous levels; that the appearance of them leaves us incapacitated, unable to cope, and in the state that results in what we call depression; that when we seek to alter these negative feelings through any means except that which results in genuine clearing, we only re-suppress the feelings, with the illusion of having healed or released them.

In investigating the origins of the manic-depressive cycle, it may not be evident exactly where or how it began. The patterns may be in place from an early age, for example, with no apparent cause. The missing link here is an intelligent appreciation of the effect of what we may call previous existences on our present life experience.

Esoteric tradition supports the notion that we each have a psychological history that precedes our current conscious life. This history has contributed directly to the experiences we encounter, especially the inner, emotional experiences. In short, we carry over the suppressed emotional subconscious from one life to the next. In Eastern terms, this is referred to as karma. Individuals who experience emotional incapacitation with no apparent cause are only experiencing the results of the previous lives. This does not mean, however, that the previous life must necessarily be recalled to clear the suppressed feelings, although this may be helpful at certain times. Working correctly with the feeling in present-time is all that is needed.

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© 2004 John Ruskan / The Institute for Integrative Processing