Fear and the Hero's Journey (from an

I've begun working recently on a paper with the working title, Returning Home: After Our "Escape from Freedom". It's subtitle, "Global Society's Evolutionary Future from an Integral Perspective" helps frame the envisioned content:

"This paper reflects a comprehensive overview from an integral perspective of a contemporary unfolding of Western culture’s evolutionary path. Consequently, and focusing reflectively on the last century in particular, it proffers the viewpoint that an ever-pervading “complexity” consciously perceived as changing “life conditions”, serves to frame and subsequently inform the developmental trajectory of global civil society. Similarly, but assessing humankind’s “spiritual” disposition underpinning the unprecedented toll of devastation wrecked on itself over the 20th Century alone, this perspective articulates a groundwork for effecting a shift in conscious awareness with the capability to transform planetary ecosystems."

The paper's conceptual theme will be interwoven from, and revolve around, various interrelated ideas including Erich Fromm's, "Escape from Freedom"; Campbell's"Hero's Journey"; Otto Scharmer's, "Theory U" (see image above) and these interconnected via an integral perspective arising through Dustin DiPerna's current work with "Integral Spiritual Development". 

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  • Thanks Brian for this synthesis of work, and the intelligence calling forth from it all; I have not spent the time yet in Sharmer's or DiPerna's work although I have heard bits over the years in the Integral community. So far, no big attraction to them so you may be able to 'bridge' that possibility in your own work. I have utilized Fromm and Campbell off and on for decades in my own map making and believe they have lots to offer, and also have their limitations. 

    Let me initially respond with a few points of inquiry in the diagrams, again, acknowledging my focus for construction of integral developmental maps is quite different than what I see above that you are working with (you seem to prefer the "functionalist" view; I prefer to integrate a functionalist view with a strong "conflict" and critical perspective--you may recall that distinction in Vanessa and Sarah's "Introduction" in their book on Integral Voices on Sex, Gender and Sexuality, SUNY Press, 2014). The Integral theorists today especially, are creating developmental (and "corrective")maps in the way you are, not bad or good, I think they are partial and quite problematic for sure. But, that's a more nuanced discussion. "The Hero's Journey" mapping makes a lot of good sense to me and I have used similar to work with clients and my own emancipation in the past. If it needs anything, for me, it requires more connection and resonance to the cycle of Ascending and Descending currents that is core to many integral theorists work (especially, Wilber in Sex, Ecology and Spirituality, 1995). In that sense by its omission in the hero's journey configuration, I believe your map here is weak in terms of being called "integral"-- yet, appropriately I think it is definitely "integrative" and well worth the work and guidance it provides. Again, that's a more nuanced conversation and probably the place to begin the mild challenge I am offering is in how "transformation" is theorized behind your map--of which, I realize you have an entire paper on which I have not read (sorry I haven't got around yet to what you sent in email). 

    One comment on the diagrams when you post and/or publish them (like on the ning), please acknowledge their maker (e.g., by copyright and/or with a name) as this helps historically to document people's work and to acknowledge who did the "art" work for the diagram. Thanks. 

    In regard to the compelling image of the U theory notion of development and evolution (first diagram), I would have to read more to get more out of the diagram or hear you give more teaching around it (which you are invited on the ning to do so, as far as I am concerned). I am not sure who's diagram it is. I don't fully get the yellow arrow movement (although, I see the 'U' shape) and, what most attracts me initially is the left hand side of Ignorance, Fear, Love, Freedom in some kind of hierarchical (holarchical) sequencing-- the reason I point this out with a query is because that fits my own "Meta-Motivational" Diagram of which I posted a photo of one version of it on this ning way back and which I add Fearlessness as the entire trajectory (again, my model of motivational ecologies, if you will, is an attempt derived from a more critical view, than a functionalist view)--the the burning question is, where did you (or whomever's) in the diagram get that bit of content? I'm curious. 

    • Thanks for commenting Michael . . .

      I'm going to attempt to start at the beginning and work through the issues and questions you've raised, point by point. First, and in respect to Scharmer's and DiPerna's respective work, they're virtually in two separate but related categories. The primary distinction between the two being that Scharmer's perspective, for all intents and purposes, is an integrative reflection of his understanding of "the ontological dimensions that are inherent in Theory U"--but as pointed out to him by Ken Wilber. Consequently, and in answer to a question posed by Integral Leadership Review publisher Russ Volckmann, Scharmer responded:

       "Otto: Absolutely! Ken really articulated that very well. Yet I haven't been dwelling too deeply on developmental approaches. I thought that I know way too little about all these levels. I wanted to stay close to my own experience, to what I had seen with my own eyes, heard and studied based on my own experience. It felt more honest and more grounded to differentiate "states" rather than "stages of development", as a starting point"  [quotation marks added for emphasis] (Volckmann).

      Dustin DiPerna's work, by contrast however, is unfolding in his current series (including Streams of Wisdom and Evolution's Ally - thus far) encapsulating the entire "integral model" as a three dimensional cube comprised of "structure-stages", "state-stages" (e.g. "vantage points") and "states".

      As for the "State-Stages to Awakening" image above; it's merely an early draft (or "mock-up") I'd created to facilitate aspects of my own learning involving technical process and visual impact. So, while I appreciate the reservations you've shared distinguishing between "functionalist" and "critical" approaches, I pledge to remain diligent in my commitment to observing the highest standards of academic rigor, on through, publication of "After Our Escape from Freedom". Consequently, I fully intend to "unpack" each of the image's various components, and subsequently credit by reference, the respective contributors from which it's been collated. Also, and while I have some years of experience in doing this, it's not always easy to attribute even foundational elements to their original source. For example, and though I'd noted a direct, inverted, parallel in my "A Marriage of Sense and Soul" between Scharmer's expression of the "U" (see Figure 4 of "Addressing the Blind Spot of Our Time") and the "three main dimensions" of Cook-Greuter's nine stages (see Table 2 of "Ego Development"), someone recently reputed the original concept/idea is actually derived from Rudolph Steiner's work. So . . . go figure.

      Also, but in respect to my inclusion of the "Hero's Journey" image, it came from Wikipedia Commons and the Monomyth page there. Hope that covers it . . .


      Volckmann, Russell (2013): "Otto Scharmer: Theory U -- Leading from the Future as It Emerges." Integral Leadership Review, Fresh Perspectives, August-November Edition, 13 Oct. 2013. Web. 21 Feb. 2014.

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