Now Available – Tearing Down Walls: Ich Bin Ein Berliner
Like Berlin, we all have a wall, an inner wall, that needs to be torn down. It’s a wall we built at a young age, when socialization began and we needed a barrier behind which we could hide that part of ourselves that was unacceptable to our mothers as well as important others. What we hide is the “shadow.” To conceal it, we create a wall that we call the “persona.”
To be a Berliner, is about starting out as a unified whole, as we all started out as infants, as Berlin itself started out. It is then to be split in two with a wall erected between the two parts, as Berlin was, and as we all were when socialization began, shattering our original wholeness.
Finally, it is to become one again, as Berlin has done and as we hope to do, if we do our work and if we are lucky. As in the case of Berlin, the wall keeps us from becoming all we can be. Berlin, thus, is a metaphor for the enlargement of personality that can occur when we, like Berlin’s inhabitants, tear down that wall and become bigger, richer, freer, and more diverse and democratic. In this sense, we are all potentially Berliners.
Lwarence Staples wrote this book to share a lifelong struggle to free himself from the powerfully dominating influence of his mother, something Jung more elegantly described as “The Battle for Deliverance from the Mother.” It’s a battle he now doubts can be won, although an uneasy truce may be achievable.
He believes the power that his mother’s values and beliefs have over him is related to a very early experience in life that seems quite small but, like an atom, contains unspeakably powerful energy. He refers to it as “that look,” the look of pure, unconditional love that is experienced only briefly in early infancy and seems to evaporate once socialization begins. Unconsciously, we recognize it as a reflection of our inmost being, an image so exquisite that we want to hold onto it and keep it only for ourselves.
We are not only unconscious of the wish to be “le seul,” the only one, but also of the price that must be paid to remain so: the rejection and concealment of that part of ourselves that mother frowned upon, narrowing us down to only the bright side of our two-sided moon. The struggle to be free of the mother’s power becomes the struggle for wholeness itself. At the same time, after all our work and self-reflection, we realize that mother, paradoxically, is essential to our experience of our self and with “that look” fuels our lifelong search for it.