Saturday, March 5, 2016

Metapersonality- the new frontier.

     Please find this peculiar treasure trove of metaphors, similes, and stories for those of you who are curious about personality. I call this “meta-personality.” Meta is a prefix that means “beyond.”  I will define for you the terms metaphor and simile in the following. And do not be afraid of metaphors, whose definition I never understood in grade or high school.

     A user-friendly definition of the word metaphor is available via etymology. Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time. Metaphor is a synthesis (combination) of meta, meaning beyond, and phor, meaning structure. Just “make” someone into another structure! So, if you say or write to someone, “You are a fountain of knowledge,” you have turned them into a fountain! That is an example of a metaphor.

     Simile is easier. Just think of “similar.” If I say, “You are like or similar to a fountain of knowledge,” I have used a simile to describe you.

     This metapersonality adventure began in the early 1980s when a new patient of mine whose wife had separated from him asked me to get a copy of The I Ching or Book of Changes by Wilhelm and Baynes. I acquiesced to his request and read that Wilhelm translated this seeming 3000 year old Chinese text of Yin (female) and Yang (male) into German, and Cary Baynes translated the German into English.

     At my patient’s second session, knowing that I had obtained the text, he cited specific sentences and paragraphs for my take on them. He said he got these sentences and paragraphs by means of an oracular readout, which I later understood.  I read his cited sentences and then waited for him.

     He told me that the text supported his belief that he had the right to control his wife; that she had no choice but to return to him. I was momentarily at a loss for words. Was he serious? Did he want psychiatric support from me that his wife should act as his subject? As it turned out, that is exactly what he wanted.

     I told him that I did not share his interpretation. I suggested he look at the text from a psychiatric perspective, which advised that he treat his wife as an equal. Otherwise I believed his wife would not return to him. Did he not grasp why she had left him? He steadfastly disagreed with me. As you can imagine our professional relationship did not continue.

     A few weeks later I returned to my copy of the I Ching. The I Ching is comprised of three books in one: Book I – the text; Book II – the material; and Book III – the commentary. I chose Book I, which my patient had used, to see if I could find any usefulness in the I Ching. As I glanced at the titles for each of the 64 hexagram-chapters it occurred to me to look up hexagram 18, relating to my date of birth: 10-18-1933.

     The title of hexagram 18 read: “Work on what has been spoiled.” This seemed to accurately describe part of my personality. Interesting! Was that a coincidence or what? That impelled me to associate dates of birth of my major players with the I Ching.

     My father was born on 9-2-1903.  Hexagram 2 and its text is labeled, “Receptive.” My father always wanted us children and his other major players to be receptive to his lectures. One of my brothers was born on the 27th. The hexagram title is, “Corners of the mouth” (providing nourishment). This also fit. My brother always encouraged people to feel better. And ultimately intrigued, I discerned that my relatives’ dates of birth also correlated concretely and abstractly with the hexagrams. I then took this interesting project to my office. I began silently juxtaposing patients’ dates of birth to their personalities. And their dates also appeared to resonate. And then I thought, “Now what?”

     Assuming that the day of birth represented the personality we carry out during the bulk of our hours at an activity, what could or would the month and the year represent?

     My secretary at the time helped me out with one of the above. Ultimately a formula followed: the month of our birth is for the first minutes of each new situation; the day is for carrying out the bulk of hours at an ongoing activity; and the year is for confronting positive and negative challenges whenever they occurred.

     My birth month, October, was equivalent to the 10th Hexagram labelled “Treading.” It was right on as to metaphors and similes applicable to me at the start of new situations.  And 33, “Retreat,” for confronting challenges, left me confused for a time.  Did this suggest I would retreat from a challenge or would I re-treat a challenge? I discovered I did both.

     Not long after, a university professor, who learned of my interest in metapersonality, asked me to lecture his graduate students on basic elements of psychiatry and also some on meta-personality. I gladly accepted his request.

     I mentioned to the graduate students that at times patients were reluctant to take a psychotropic medication. To mitigate this fear I used the phrase, “If the shoe fits wear it.”  In other words if the medication seemed effective in decreasing the symptom continue to take it. I also spoke of when a patient might call my office to inform me of imminent suicidality. I would often verbalize, “I will not let you turn into a pumpkin, I will not let you commit suicide, so you must come to my office immediately."   

     I realized that the psychiatric challenge of a patient feeling suicidal lit up my “33”: to get my patient to “retreat” from being suicidal.  My “10” for the first minutes of this new situation would have them urgently “tread” to my office or to an emergency department. And my “18” would have me “Work on what has been spoiled.”

     During the break in my lecture a number of the students looked at my copy of the I Ching or at one or more of the New Age books I had with me. As we resumed, one of the students raised her hand to tell me something she found in one of the texts. And she wondered if I knew of her finding? She referred to my date of birth. She said, “Dr. Paltrow, do you realize that the phraseology you used before the break fit with the 18th chapter of Inner Child Cards?” “No,” I responded.  She then told the group that the 18th chapter was titled, “Cinderella,” which related to my expressions of “if the shoe fits” and the “pumpkin.”  I was fascinated with this student’s discovery that the role and or story of Cinderella did describe a facet(s) of my personality.

     If the book you are using does not have enough chapters for your day of birth (1-31) then consider using the individual numbers, e.g., chapters 3 and 1 for being born on the 31st.   The zero in any birthday (01 for January, or the 10th, 20th, and 30th) can be found using the zero chapter in the Inner Child Cards book.

     If the book you are using does not have the chapter for your year of birth, then consider using the I Ching.  Since there are 64 Hexagrams, subtract 64 from any higher year to get the applicable Hexagram.  For example, the year 1987 would just focus on the 87.  Subtract 64 (total number of hexagrams) from 87 and discover 23.  So, the 23rd, 8th, and 7th chapters could all apply to describe modi operandi for confronting challenge.

     Please keep in mind that the metapersonality I describe above compels us to think of metapersonality as being “logical.” Step 1 is called “Major premise”: one’s belief, finding, opinion, or perspective. Step 2 is called “Minor premise”: documentation or evidence to support the major premise. Step 3 of logic is the “Conclusion.”

     Yes, this post seems to compel logic when we discover literal and abstract correlations with our dates of birth. A trove of metaphors, similes, and stories that seem to describe our personalities could be seriously contemplated when our situations, settings, and comings and goings seem to be out of sync.   

     Here is a list of the nine new age books I use as reference for metapersonality. You might want to see if your library has any of these texts. Please start your adventure slowly, as I did, using whatever book you have as a reference, rather than as a novel or a book to read from cover to cover.  Enriched knowledge of each other’s personality helps each one of us to relate more peacefully to ourselves and to each other.

1. Wilhelm, Richard, and Cary F Baynes. The I Ching or Book of Changes. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1971

2. Murphy, Joseph. Secrets of the I Ching. New York: Parker, 1973

3. Blum, Ralph H. The Book of Runes. New York: St. Martin’s press, 1993

4. Blum, Ralph H, and Susan Loughan. The Healing Runes. New York: St. Martin’s press, 1995

5. Sams, Jamie, and David Carson. Medicine Cards. New York: St. Martin’s press, 1999

6. Lerner, Isha, and Mark Lerner. Inner Child Cards. New Mexico: Bear & Company, 1992

7. Sams, Jamie. Sacred Past Cards. San Francisco: Harper, 1990

8. Sheppard, Susan. The Phoenix Cards. Vermont: Destiny Books, 1990

9. Carlsberg, Kim, and Darryl Anka. Contact Cards. New Mexico: Bear & Company, 1996

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