Spirit and Form
Spirit and Form
On the True Meaning of Individuality and the Art of Psychological Sculpting
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Each individual is unique, and that uniqueness should be cultivated. In Spirit and Form, author and psychologist Dr. Benjamin M. Goldberg offers a thorough analysis of individuality and its development.

Formed during thirty-five years of study, Goldberg has developed the art of psychological sculpting. His theory is that an individual should not be “changed” or “fixed,” but rather the process must be like the art of sculpting stone. Spirit and Form includes a detailed analysis of how this process of articulation, as the principle of spiritual fulfillment, personal happiness, and mental health, is either cultivated or thwarted. Goldberg emphasizes the critical distinction between the psychological impact of didactic and dialectical relationships and the artificiality of the distinction between the psychological and the spiritual.

In Spirit and Form, Goldberg proposes a new model of human consciousness which revolutionizes the traditional model and obviates many of its conceptual problems. The occlusive layers of extrinsic thoughts, feelings, ambitions, and self-assessments that have peripheralized the individual are to be “chipped away,” or subtracted from the equation, allowing the light of the true form or individuality to be revealed and seek its course of outward expression.

Folklore has it that when Michelangelo was asked how he carved a figure as magnificent as the David from a block of stone, he replied, "I chiseled away everything that was not the David." In his sonnets he wrote of sculpting as the act of "liberating the figure imprisoned in the marble" (Nims 1998).

As a rule, all significant relationships are internalized, whether they are dialectical or didactic. With the internalization of a dialectical relationship the adult is introjected as a stimulant to ongoing dialectical processing, and because of these elements of freedom and individuality the internalized other is said to be integrated into the psyche of the child. With the internalization of a didactic relationship the adult is introjected as a hindrance to dialectical processing, and in the absence of freedom and individuality remains unintegrated in the psyche of the child. Looming as an officious and subordinating presence, the didactic introject, because never integrated into a dialectical relationship, remains an unchanged and autonomous entity, in the child but still foreign to his essential identity.

Ontologically speaking, the internalized dialectical process and the didactic instructiveness of the unintegrated introject are distinct in origin and nature. The thoughts that follow a dialectical process are clearly of the individual, and experienced in the first person as my thoughts. The thoughts that follow a didactic process are clearly of the other, and should be experienced in the first person as his or her thoughts. Simply because the didactic relationship has been internalized and the object representation is in the individual does not make it of the individual, any more than it was of the individual when purely embedded in the objective, preinternalized other. Internalization does not blur the ontological distinction between self and other, but unfortunately, with time, phenomenology does. What is originally his or her voice as an external facticity becomes, through memory, internally represented or "heard" as such in one's mind. As simple memory, the "voices" are clearly his or hers, and there is no confusion of identities. With ongoing repetition these voice-memories become less discernible as distinct characters, and seem to assimilate to oneself, so that we come to hear them in our own voice, as our thoughts. Although the ontological distinction between self and other is inviolable, consciousness is deceived into experiencing it otherwise, and therein is left open to boundless and devastating confusion.

Benjamin M. Goldberg holds a doctorate in personality psychology and is a licensed clinical social worker. He practiced privately for twenty-five years and founded Personality Concepts, a consulting group providing psychological services. Goldberg and his wife have two children and live in Rockville Centre, New York.

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