Issue 56 –
Integrating Instinctual Energies
by Hal Stone
One of the first areas that came up for me to deal with was the area of my physical body. I was never a physical child. I suspect that this had to do with the fact that I lived so much in phantasy as a child.
The educational process places a great deal of emphasis on competitive sports, especially in the upper grades. This works for some children, but it doesn’t work for children who are more introverted and who live more out of their phantasy life.
I solved this problem in high school by joining the R.O.T.C. program, and I did the same thing during my first two years at U.C.L.A. There was a period in college when I bought some weights and I used to work out with my friend, Harvey Mindess. We took it quite seriously for a time, but I let it go fairly early down the line. My warrior energy was totally lacking.
My choice of profession was not one that enhanced my physical body. There can hardly be a more sedentary profession than the practice of psychotherapy. The uncon-scious, however, was beginning to prepare me for the dis-covery of a new disowned self – the reality of my physical being. My spiritual and symbolic development, along with my developing scholarship, was also moving me far-ther and farther away from my physical body. I started private practice in 1957.
Somewhere about 1964 or 1965 I began to develop pains in my lower back and legs and a variety of other places. I was convinced that I had cancer. My father had died of cancer in 1963 and these were my cancer years. Later I graduated to heart disease and a wide range of other symptomatic possibilities.
My experience, in hindsight, with these kinds of fears is that they are a function of blocked energies. I certainly had a wide range of blocked energies. The concern about cancer finally drove me to my physician where I had a complete physical, including upper and lower G.I.s and a wide range of other medical tests. When all was finished, I was found to be totally fit, except for what might be some slight arthritic spurs in the back area. He gave me some stretching exercises to do once or twice a day. These I did religiously for one week and then promptly forgot about. After all, as long as I didn’t have cancer, why would I worry about a back that was hardly bothering me?
About two months passed and then I had a dream that once again marked a major turning point in my life so far as my physical body was concerned. I was born in Detroit, Michigan, and I went to a high school known as Central High. It was a school that was predominantly Jewish and it had a reputation for being a school of many brainy kids. On the other side of town was a community known as Hamtramack and there stood Hamtramack High School. It was known as the school of brawn. When the two teams played football, which they did every year, the score (on a good day for Central) was 75 to 6. This is the context of my dream.
Dream of Krupnick
I was sitting at my desk in my study doing some work. It was a place at which I spent a great deal of time. The study faced the street. I heard a car pull up. It was a foreign car, possibly a Volkswagen. Out of the car stepped four gigantic Polish boys, probably in their late teens. They looked huge and powerful. They stood by the car in a position that looked like they were forming a square. Then from out of the car came their coach and he stepped into the middle of the square. His name was Krupnick. They marched to the front door and began banging on it. It was more like they were smashing on it. I was very frightened and I timidly opened the door. They grabbed me and said-“You’re coming with us.” There was no argument. They pulled me out of the house and I awoke from the dream.
The means by which we disown parts of ourselves is truly amazing. Once we become aware of a part, we wonder how in heaven we could have spent so many years without this awareness. I can remember watching joggers run and they all looked so silly to me. Belonging to a gymnasium made no sense. I was identified with my mind and spirit and the controller was behind them and they represented what I thought was my ego. They were the parts of me that were negating my physical body. I was again being separated from my introverted nest. My Hamtramack cronies and my new coach Krupnick have been with me ever since that dream. I joined the YMCA the next day and never since that time have I been sepa-rated from my body. As the years have gone by, I would say that I have taken it more and more seriously. Krupnick is a living entity in me, a good advisor on matters of my physical being.
Illness can be a very powerful teacher in our lives. It all depends on the attitude we take toward it. If we become ill and see the illness in purely symptomatic terms as something to be eliminated, then we do what we can to eliminate it. If, however, we see illness as a natural pro-cess of life, as an opportunity to become aware of certain energetic imbalances of blockages, then it becomes an amazing teacher. We begin to look at the things we eat, at our emotional blockages, at the thought patterns that constitute our belief system about living. We think about the sense of meaning and purpose of our lives and whether we have any or not. We begin to view our environment differently, and our relationships – where we feel free and where we feel trapped. The concept of illness as teacher is one of the most significant ideas that has emerged from the holistic movement in contemporary medicine.
In the same way, when we have fears of illness or dreams of becoming ill, these experiences can also be looked at as potential teachers. How are our energies not in balance? Where are they being blocked? What am I doing that I don’t want to do? What do I want to do that I am not doing? Our so-called symptoms, illness, dreams of illness, and phobic reactions about illness are all wonderful opportunities for new awareness.
The beginning integration of my body was really a continuation of the process that started with the dream of my father in Zurich. My relationship with my father had changed considerably through the years. He still was a man who talked very little, but gradually a love developed between us that was there until the very end. When he became ill in 1961, it was my mother’s preference that he not know that he had cancer. This was not something I agreed with at all, but I felt the need to honor her wishes. He had cancer for two years and remained at home until about ten days before his death.
One afternoon my mother called me in something of a panic, telling me that my father was hallucinating. I got to their home as quickly as I could and my father was having a persistent vision of “death” trying to enter his room through the back door. He was quite frightened, but after a few minutes became more calm. He looked at me and posed the question I could no longer deny – “I’m dying, aren’t I?” I nodded my head to indicate that this was so. That was the end of the hallucinations and within a few days he was moved to the hospital. He died shortly thereafter.
It is not a pleasant thing to die without knowing that you’re dying. It is not pleasant for the dying person. Everything becomes forced and artificial and the beauty of the death process is denied to all concerned. We can all be grateful for the work that has been done on death and dying because it has changed the climate so much in relation to the death process. Now it is the rare experience to find someone who is dying who is denied that knowledge. We think we are protecting the dying person when in fact we are protecting ourselves from our own tears and sadness.