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Wilber IV - Developmental Levels

Ken Wilber - the Phantasmic-Emotional Realm

The following page is from a research notes page by external link Allan Combs which is no longer on line (original url ). The term "Phantasmic-Emotional" must surely be one of the most unweildly neologisms ever coined! - MAK

An informal 'phenomenological' narrative:

Archaic consciousness:
I see, hear, feel. I am not alone. There are others here, of my blood, and we are one, against the others.
Nature sleeps with us, and rises with us, and we are sometimes bright, sometimes frightened, by this power over us. Our strong desire is not strong enough, many times. Earth, air, fire, water, follow no course, sometimes they help, many times they hurt.

Life is short, following the way of all blood on earth. There are others here, some are bright, some are dark. Those of my blood are with me. Those who are not, are not. Death is with us, and we put death on those who are not.

Family is of blood, and is with us. I am four in this family. Eighteen suns have brought me here. Now the moon is putting death on me. The moon, the snake, the water, they are one.

All things touch all things. There is no separation here on earth. To touch a thing is to be that thing; to eat a thing is to be that thing. We do not touch that of the other, we do not eat that of the other. Life is on this side, of our blood. Death is on that side, of the other. We do not touch the other, we do not eat that of the other. Now the moon is putting death on me, because the snake, the moon, and the water are one. When the snake bit, the moon entered me, and now death is entering me.

I have learned these things, from those who know. My family goes on, our blood mixed with this earth.

One Taste; 143

Magical consciousness:

Boy and girl together are killed, we roast them and eat them carefully, for they are of the Mother. Blood is of the Mother, and we offer blood to Her, which comes back as our food.
    I am Tiamat, of the fifth house, planter of the seeds that were brought to us by ancestors in the days before time began. My blood is of the Mother, my bones are of the Mother, my heart beats with the time call­ing us to Mother. My body mixes with earth, which is the Mother.
Few understand Mother. She is Life, her blood makes life. We offer her blood, the boy and girl are killed together, which we eat for the Mother, or else the seeds will not bring forth. Each four moon season, we sacrifice for Mother, which comes back as our food, If we do not sacrifice, we all will perish. I, Tiamat, know this, from the ancestors who brought us the seeds, in the days before time began.

One Taste, 143-144.


Wilber Correlations


Correlative Basic Structures: impulse/emotion, image, symbol

General Self-sense: bodyego

Specific aspects:  substages; -axial body - pranic body (typhonic) -image body (magical)


“The Axial and Pranic Self

cognitive style- feeling; sensorimotor; acausality;axial-images;exoceptual

affective elements- elementary emotions (fear appetite, rage, pleasure); pranic level

motivational/conative factors- immediate survival, pleasure/pain principle” Amazon com Atman Project pg16


Axial Body

“By axial body I mean essentially the physical body felt as distinct from the physical environment….the infant does not recognize an axial-body until around 4-6 months ( and does not differentiate self and not-self until around age 15 to 18 months)…..Axial images recognize objects (items somehow different from the self) but only present objects… His world is limited to the simple, immediate and the still rather vague present. At any rate, Under the influence of systems of axial images, the infant constructs both a type of external reality as well as a physical or bodily sense of inward self.” Amazon com Atman Project pg 13


Pranic Body

“Because a definite organic self is starting to emerge, the basic emotions of this self likewise begin to emerge. This basic emotional component (as opposed to the cruder reflex-instincts of the uroboros) we call the pranic level or pranic body. But at this stage the emotions are still rather primitive and elementary…….

Since, as we have seen the characteristic time component of the axial level is nothing but the immediate present…..(the) short-circuited emotions are the only emotions that can be floated or carried by the axial image in the quick and immediate present, no other emotions can be sustained in the quick and immediate present…..The emotions characteristic of this early stage are- as general psychoanalytic thought also maintains- very quick, short circuited, and thus they tend toward immediate and undiluted discharge, there being nothing in time to prevent them.” Amazon com Atman Project pg14


“The Image-Body Self

cognitive style- parataxic, magical primary process, multivalent images; sensorimotor completion

affective elements- sustained emotions, wishes, anxiety, rudimentary desires

motivational/conative elements- wish fulfillment, anxiety reduction, prolonged survival and safety

temporal mode- extended present

mode of self- non reflexive body-image” Amazon com Atman Project pg 21


“The Image-Body

The emergence of the infant’s ability to create extensive imagery marks a decisive point in development. Most significantly , the image allows the infant to eventually construct an extended world of objects and an expanded mode of time, both of which contribute greatly to the establishment of “object constancy” ..the first axial-image is said to be of  the breast, the first significant concrete image is of the “mothering-one” (Sullivan), for “the first object of every individual is the mother”…..The infant thus enters the decisive but rather prolonged relationship with the Great Mother, a relationship played out on the bodily plane as an existential (life or death) drama between the individual organism and its mothering environ….according to Erik Erikson, it involves nothing less than a conflict between basic trust and mistrust.

We may further note that this whole stage of development (reaching back to the axial/pranic level and forward to the anal and even phallic stage) has been intensely studied by Jung and his followers as the “realm of maternal symbolism” and by the Freudians as the stages of the pre- Oedipal mother….. Amazon com Atman Project pg 17”


“Just as the infant creates and organizes a nexus of images and impressions of the mothering one, as well as other significant environmental objects, he likewise begins the correlative construction of nonreflexive self-images, commonly called at this stage, “body images” Body-images are simply the “image pictures” of the physical or axial body and the “closer” the body image is to the physical or axial body the more “accurate” it is said to be…….” Amazon com Atman Project pg18


“The infant can begin to imagine or picture the existence of those objects not immediately present ( this differentiates the image proper from the axial-image; the axial-image can picture only present objects, the image proper can picture nonpresent objects). Thus the infants present matrix of experience is to some extent expanded through time in a symbolic and representative fashion. The infant begins to enter the world of an extended, but as yet random, series of moments. He moves in an extended present through which float the unorganized images of past events and random images of future possibilities.” Amazon com Atman Project pg18


“This basic and magical confusion of inner and outer, psyche and material environment, is one of the characteristics of the preverbal primary process (a point Arieti also makes). It is as if this most primitive of cognitive forms, which develops as the psyche crystallizes out of the material pleroma, partakes of both the mental subject and the material object, belonging to neither exclusively, but reflecting the first rudimentary spark of knowledge that occurs when subject and object first begin to differentiate.” Pg 20 Amazon com Atman Project


“The presence of the image also greatly extends the infant’s emotional and motivational life, for now he can respond not only to present events, persons and objects, but also to the mere image of these entities, which themselves may or may not be present. For the image can evoke the same types of emotions and feelings as the actual object or person. Furthermore, the infant can for the first time experience prolonged emotions, for not only can the image evoke feeling tones, it can sustain and prolong them. Thus, as Arieti so clearly shows, the infant can experience anxiety, which is nothing but imagined, and thus sustained, fear. Likewise, he can wish, since a wish is simply an imagined pleasure.” Amazon com Atman Project pg 20-21


“The overall typhonic stage(s)-axial, pranic and image- is in some way similar to the whole oral (and especially oral sadistic) period descirved by psychoanalysis. The typhonic realm itself, however, reaches back to the alimentary uroboros, and will reach forward to anal and phallic aspects of the subsequent stages of development.” Pg17 Amazon com Atman Project


Defenses: selfobject fusion, projection, splitting

Possible Pathology: borderline

Fulcrum: F-2 emotional self

Treatment: structure building ( Gedo: unification, optimal disillusion)

Moral Span: impulsive, magical, narcissism, hedonic

locus: bodily self

Affect: protoemotions: tension, fear, rage, satisfaction

Levels of Food: emotional exchange- sex, safety + power, belongingness+ care

Gender identity: differentiated basic gender identity

Worldview name: magical

Worldview characteristics: egocentric, word magic, narcissistic; locus of magic power=ego


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this page uploaded 8 December 2005