The chapter starts out comparing scientific views that are experience far for humans, and that it's not going to be the road to liberation except that it does give insight into some hooey. Then he runs through the confusion between western "ego" and eastern "ego".
Watts discusses difference between Freud and Jung, and is frustrated that even though the Jungians learned a lot of eastern religion, they didn't seem to grasp it beyond psychology. Through that section, I was thinking about how Stephen Mitchell has his grand unification theory of relational psychotherapy, and that drive theory was overturned. I bet Watts would have loved Relational Concepts of Psychoanalysis. I think more about The Denial of Death, Donald Winnicott, Melanie Klein, Fromm, existential psychotherapy, Kohut and self psychology, systems theory, interpersonal psychotherapy, and attachment theory. Freud is a reference point, but his grand theory has been debunked of late, in favor of relational psychoanalysis.
Watts seems to see how the denial of death is in play, says you can't live unless you face death. Kafka is often quoted that the meaning of life is death. Watts is also into field theory which is a close cousin to systems theory.
Much intellectual discourse is tilting at windmills. Nowadays in NYC most of the psychotherapy is done by social workers, who have a kind of curious and supportive approach, and few have further training. Maybe they have read The Drama of the Gifted Child.
Positive psychology is just starting out, not just about the deficit model. We have a long way to go. The conflict between the pleasure principle and the reality principle is something I think a lot about. Watts sees the double binds of cultural institutions is at the heart of the ishkabibble. The teachings of the Buddha are a way to enlightenment and liberation!
Then he shifts to existential psychotherapy. That is not going to understand the Buddhist project either. Watts is very quotable: "The stereotypical attitudes of a culture are, of course, always a parody of the insights of the more gifted members." Creating a meaningful life is a better project than a happy life, to me, but liberation is something different all together.
He explores the idea that we in the west must be anxious, guilty and insecure. Protestantism infects our thinking whether we're protestant or not. Everything in modern society conspires against liberation. He has a dim view of history, almost likens it to a hoarder of strings and rubber bands and whatnot. Every moment is a rebirth of possibility to be creative and not reactive.
Watts describes one of the fetters: that life is nothing and life is eternal are two ends of the spectrum that are to be avoided.
He seems to know about Sullivan and Frida Fromm-Reichmann, a contemporary psychiatrist of Freud from Germany, who emigrated to the USA during WW2. When you think of it, Watts is pretty well read for someone who is not a psychotherapist. I'm warming to this book as I read it, and get used to his style of writing. Next blog on the book will be about the rest of the book.