Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Lessons from the Globe warehouse III: introjection

In his classic, The Act of Creation, Arthur Koestler discusses two strongly related - though opposite - psychological states: projection and introjection. Projection involves transferring one's own feelings or notions onto another person. Thus, if one is feeling angry or hostile one may interpret an other's otherwise benign comments as an attack. Or, one may construe an other's expressed ideas with pre-established ideas of one's own. Introjection, on the other hand,  involves being affected by or mimicking an other's behaviour, feelings, or ideas. For example, when watching a football match, one's own leg may spontaneously kick the air as one keenly observers a striker about to kick the ball toward the goal. Or, one may unknowingly begin to mimic an other's facial expressions or manner of dress. Perhaps introjection is most salient in the contagious nature of laughter and yawning. Upon hearing another laugh, one begins to laugh, and in seeing someone yawning, one tends to yawn as well.

Kabbalah speaks of two psychological qualities through which people interact with their environment. The first is Netzach - dominance, and the second is Hod - surrender. Netzach is characterised by an attempt to get a handle on one's experiences by either physically controlling them, or by projecting one's feelings or thoughts onto them in order to make rapid sense of them. Hod, in contrast, is the ability to open up to one's environment and allow oneself to be influenced by it. In fact, the word Hod is related to the Hebrew 'Hed' meaning 'echo', as it allows one to echo - reflect - one's surroundings. The former thus relates to projection, the latter, introjection.

This notion helped me understand my exhilarating, and more so, empowering, experience at the Globe warehouse that evening. I was in an extremely receptive state primarily because I was in awe of the skills of the skateboarders. I watched them attentively in a Hod state of surrender and was thus susceptible to being permeated with their fearless attitude and fast style of skateboarding. It was the introjection of Hod that allowed me to overflow with their energy to the point that I spontaneously 'echoed' it and skated incomparably better than usual.

I remember a similar degree of  Hod introjection when, as a nine year old, I watched Spider man with the complete openness and gullibility of a typical child. After the film I was so hyped up that I spent some time trying to assail the walls of my home. However, unlike my results at Globe, I wasn't quite so successful...                       

No comments:

Post a Comment