Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Inner Critic and the Mud Creature


I've been blogging from time to time about my Inner Critic, and more recently about my inner Mud Demon. The Mud Demon might be seen in Freudian terms as the id, the pleasure seeking part of my psyche; but more precisely, it is a subpersonality devoted to my basest instincts, including pleasure, anger, and avoidance of responsibilities.

It likes loud angry music -- and I think it is the source of some of my escapist tendencies, as well. But it also is curious and open to new things. It likes dirt and trees, playing in rivers and climbing mountains; and it likes having someone to share all that with.

As I have been exploring this "self," it has become clear that the tag of "demon" is my Inner Critic labeling this playful aspect of my psyche with its pejorative criticism. The Critic doesn't like the Mud Creature (it's new name) because it opens me up to all the things it fears: failure, ridicule, embarrassment, or any number of other adverse experiences. But it also fears its spontaneity and willingness to take risks.

So for most of my life, the Critic has tried to keep this part of me, which in essence is my Inner Child, although I hate that term because of all the New Age touchy-feely associations that come with it. But in Hal and Sidra Stone's subpersonality work, that is exactly what that self is, the Child. This is from Embracing the Inner Critic:
This Inner Child has many aspects. In addition to the Vulnerable Child, who carries our deepest feelings, sensitivities, and vulnerabilities, other aspects of the Inner Child carry major portions of our spontaneity, shyness, neediness, fears, joy, magic, our ability to be unselfconscious, our playfulness, and our adventurousness. The Inner Child can be extremely angry with us or with others when we neglect or mistreat it.

It is the Vulnerable Child who is one of the major players in making intimacy possible in relationship. We speak about this in our book Embracing Each Other. When the Vulnerable Child is present in relationship you actually feel it. There is an almost palpable warmth between you and others and the air feels full between you. When this Child is not there, you feel empty and alone.
So my Critic has been acting like a restrictive parent -- which is what it does best -- with the Child and squelching any expression of the Child's positive aspects. So the Child gets angry and that's the only thing that can get through. But my Critic sees the anger as inappropriate behavior -- I wasn't allowed to get angry as a kid -- and labels the Child a Mud Demon because it connects with that angry, primal energy.

For the past several months, the only way the Child can express itself under the harsh control of the Critic is through anger, which distances those close to me and leaves me with a limited range of experience. The other result of this pattern was the loss of intimacy in my previous relationship -- certainly one of the main factors in it ending. [There's more to what happened than that, but the absence of the Child energy was one factor.]

But the Critic is not acting alone in this whole thing -- it has a team of experts working with it to make sure that the Child stays quiet and under control. But the result of this pattern is the loss of vitality, intimacy, and expression. More in Part II.


1 comment:

John said...

Hmmm.
I experience the "mud creature" also and I am not sure what to make of him. Sometimes I see him as playful and creative and sometimes as evil. Well, he's kinda like a kid and kids can be mean. Anyways, here is another interpretation:
According to Carl Jung, this mud creature results from us supressing our extrovertive (wordly) perceptions. Basically, if your are like me, you don't spontaneously feel things. Anyways, so the Self needs this and -- as our conscious one is blocked up -- relies on the primitive unconscious one. Of course this guy is more primitive, like a kids who hasn't learned not to kick when he is angy, but also one that is childishly playful.
But maybe, that's not an issue you have. I know for myself, Its hard for me to wistle when I see a hot girl -- those emotions just don't flow freely. So I know I am blocking something.