There’s a “life instinct” that pushes us away from joining and towards individuation so as to become individuals, competent and independent, and a “death instinct” that pushes us away from our individuality so as to be part of a family, community, or humanity.
In many ways, these are the determining factors between whether we approach life with courage or out of desperation. Both instincts create a tension that, if held throughout life, supports living on the edge of life in a state of being (or creating). When the balance is lost, we become overly enveloped by one instinct to
the point in time that the other instinct erupts creating a sense of desperation to re-balance the tension between. Often experienced as an internal disintegration, the re-balancing process creates massive internal chaos until a new equilibrium is found and
Juxtaposed to these instincts, we feel a certain fear. The “fear of life” or “life fear” is the fear of abandonment, separation, loneliness, and alienation and is typically associated with the “fear of going forward” to become fully individualized.
“It shows itself in the need for dependency on someone else and/or the need to throw one’s self so completely into a relationship that one has no self left with which to relate.”
Therefore, “life fear” is the polarity, or more appropriately the shadow, of the “life instinct”.
Similarly, the “fear of death or “death fear” is the fear of getting lost in the whole,
stagnating, being no-one and is typically associated with the “anxiety of ‘going backwards’ thereby losing one’s individuality.” “This is the
fear of being totally absorbed by the other, the fear of losing one’s self and one’s
autonomy, the fear of having one’s independence taken way.”
Therefore, “death fear” is the polarity, or more appropriately the shadow, of the “death
Our lives are filled with separations, beginning with birth. Rank’s earliest work, in fact, concerned birth trauma the idea that the anxiety experienced during birth was the model for all anxiety experienced afterwards. After birth, there’s weaning and
discipline and school and work and heartbreaks…. But avoiding these separations is,
literally, avoiding life and choosing death — never finding out what you can do, never
leaving your family or small town, never leaving the womb! So we must face our fears, recognizing that, to be fully developed, we must embrace both life and death, become individuals and nurture our relationships with others.
Freedom is an inescapable truth for mankind.
“Our freedom within certain areas…is boundless.”
We can choose to live consciously or we can choose not to choose and therefore live unconsciously.
Regardless of our choosing, “it is an irrefutable and irrevocable fact that we have free will.”
To fully understand our free will requires that we
constantly use self reflection and introspection to examine what we choose and choose not to choose. This process results in the development of conscious awareness. As we develop our conscious awareness, we begin to find other cultures or fields of immersion that hold a frame of reference of how to be in the world. Once these fields of immersion are revealed, we begin to realize that there are other cultures, etc., and therefore that we are immersed in our own culture. Once we realize this state, we have further revealed personal freedom in choice and in use of free will.
“Once we have mustered the courage to understand, to accept, and to face fully the absolute existence of our free will, we will discover it can give us unequaled power to handle our fundamental problems. To accept and to understand one’s free will is to have reached maturity, to have developed the capacity to live life fully.”