The Beckerian Braid: The Third Strand

Escape from Evil

The Beckerian Braid: The Third Strand

“The third strand. Since the terror of death is so overwhelming we conspire to keep it unconscious. ‘The vital lie of character’ is the first line of defense that protects us from the painful awareness of our helplessness. Every child borrows power from adults and creates a personality by introjecting the qualities of the godlike being. . . . So long as we stay obediently within the defense mechanisms of our personality, what Wilhelm Reich called ‘character armor’ we feel safe and are able to pretend that the world is manageable. But the price we pay is high. We repress our bodies to purchase a soul that time cannot destroy; we sacrifice pleasure to buy immortality; we encapsulate ourselves to avoid death. And life escapes us while we huddle within the defended fortress of character.
Society provides the second line of defense against our natural impotence by creating a hero…

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