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Psychological Types

Feb 15, 1994 01:36 PM
by K. Paul Johnson

This week's New York Times Book Review includes a review of a
new psychology book which presents a post-modern personality
theory that is relevant to my comments last week.  That is, why
do some Theosophists need to make HPB into an authority figure
who is completely consistent and never misleads?  Here's a
quote from the review-- the book is called The Protean Self:

..The upbeat message of Dr. [Robert Jay] Lifton's book is that
a "protean self" is a source of strength and value and ought to
be accepted as a new psychological ideal.  A person with a
protean self is a "willful eclectic" who draws strength from
the variety and disorderliness of historical change and
upheaval.  His or her integrity is defined by an ability to
stay on the move between partial, incomplete and irreconcilable
realities.  According to Dr. Lifton, life is not a straight
line.  Instead, it is, and ought to be, experienced as a
   The "protean self" is not alone in the contemporary world.
It has, as an alter ego, the "fundamentalist self," which is
the second character type... a consistency freak who avoids
psychological fragmentation by defending the world against
evil, embracing a totalizing world view and looking forward to
the end of time.  Unlike the "protean self," the
"fundamentalist self" responds to the mix and complexity of
existence with a sense of gnostic revulsion so profound that
even a nuclear war seems welcome.  The idea of apocalyptic
conflagration is endowed with a divine purpose: bringing the
world to an end is a way to clean the messy slate.

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