Jourard Quotes

The family is the civilian equivalent of Marine boot camp. It is supposed to prepare people for the combats and joys of life. Let us look at it, however, in light of the fact that one out of every three spouses checks out of [their] first attempt at marriage. And let us view the family in light of the hypothesis that rigid conformity to the middle-class design for marriage and family life is the prime cause of physical and psychological breakdown in our time.

1971, The Transparent Self, p. 103

We live in a utopia-for-somebody. It is not utopia for intelligent young middle-class man and women who drop out and become hippies. They are not in dialogue with their elders, but commune if at all with their peer group. It is not utopia for the blacks. It is not utopia for the poor. It is not utopia for many women. For whom is America a utopia? Perhaps just for that minority of men--the power elite and those who are close to them--who profit from the status quo and resist social and institutional and educational change that might diminish their grip on the levers of power. And they are not in dialogue with the many they control rather than serve.

ibid. p. 121

The act of writing bears something in common with the act of love. The writer, at his most productive moments, just flows. He gives of that which is uniquely himself. He makes himself naked, recording his nakedness in the written word. Herein lies some of the terror which frequently freezes a writer, preventing him from producing. Herein, too, lies some of the courage that must be entailed in letting others learn how one has experienced or is experiencing the world.

ibid. p. 62

On Loneliness and Solitude

(excerpted from "The Psychotherapist as Psychedelic Man," [1968] )

[editor's note: Sidney Jourard wrote in language now considered "sexist" through his use of "man" and "him" when referring to humans and human behavior. Sidney believed inarguably in the liberation of all humans and because of this, a more accurate reading will substitute every singular male reference with the readers concept of a human being of either sex.

The ability of healthier personalities to find and maintain relationships of love and friendships in the world insures that a healthier person will have access to relief from the existential loneliness in which we all live. (I use the term relief, not cure, of existential loneliness.) Loneliness is not a disease from which one can be cured; rather, it is an inescapable fact of human existence. Less healthy personalities, cut off as they are from the fount of their real selves, find themselves terrible company. They cannot long tolerate solitude, and they run willy-nilly into busy work or superficial companionship with others. They do not, however, truly encounter another person, and enter into dialogue with him. Hence, the feeling of loneliness, of not being known and understood...

A healthier personality,because he is less self-concealing and has readier access to his own possible experience, the experience of possibility, is less afraid of solitude when that is their lot; and when he is with others he can feel secure enough in his own worth that he can let encounter and dialogue happen. During the process of such dialogue the shell that encapsulates him as a separate being ruptures and this inner world expands by receiving the disclosed world of experience of the other. When the dialogue ends he has experienced himself in the new dimensions evoked by the other person and he has learned of the personal world of another. He is enlarged and changed.

To insist the world has one meaning rather than another is politics.

from "The Psychotherapist as Exemplar," The Transparent Self, Revised Edition 1971, p. 155

For whom is America a utopia? Perhaps just for that minority of men--the power elite and those who are close to them--who profit from the status quo and resist social and institutional and educational change that might diminish their grip on the levers of power. And they are not in dialogue with the many they control rather than serve.

"Psychedelic Drugs: The Impotent Protest", ibid., p. 121

On Recognizing a Consciousness Larger than One's Own

An Hypothesis

If the other person experiences the world in more dimensions, in greater depth, and with more breadth of vision than oneself, one cannot even imagine what that experience might be, because one can imagine only within limits set by one's own experience. How, then, can a person recognize when he is in the presence of a teacher, a guru, or a ‘sorcerer‘ as Don Juan, the Yaqui teacher, viewed himself?

The key to an answer lies in surprise and unpredictability. If the other person presents ideas which come as a surprise to the listener, if his actions are of surprising skill and grace, or if he achieves feats which seem unthinkable to the average person, the possibility arises that the other person is an enlarged consciousness. To feel that the other person can predict one's own actions and counteract them with his own is another sign that one's level of awareness has been transcended. Thus a child may feel that his parents can read his mind, because they can anticipate some of his actions. A general who finds his army outflanked and outmaneuvered realizes he is opposed by a larger, better-informed consciousness than his own. Boris Spassky the Russian chess-master, may have had a moment of suspicion that Bobby Fischer was a larger awareness when finally he yielded the championship to him.

A person with a larger awareness faces a problem in communicating with those of lesser awareness. In all the traditions of enlightenment, different paths are recommended by the teacher, to bring the seeker to the desired 'light.' Socrates followed the path of dialogue, questioning his student until the latter suddenly achieved an understanding. The Zen master assigns koans, impossible problems to solve, such as, 'What is the sound of one hand clapping?' The seeker would be obliged to ponder this paradox until, after enough struggle, the enlightenment would occur. Moses enjoined the Hebrews to live in a very particular way that he could see would lead to an enriched life. If they would follow in a disciplined way, they would live more fruitfully and experience more. The yogis guide their followers toward a larger awareness of the world by assigning the the disciplines of Hatha Yoga, meditation, good works and simple living. The Sufi masters assigned disciplines, and employed wine, stories, and ecstatic dancing to lead their pupils to a larger awareness of their possibilities. In all such instances, the 'disciplines' were ways provided by a master to invite a person to detach himself from the commitments and projects which locked his consciousness at its ordinary level; new dimensions of awareness of the world would then present themselves. The teacher was sought by the pupil because the latter was suffering, or because he was enthralled by feats which appeared superhuman, so surprising were they to the pupil....

Awareness is power, the power to affect others for their betterment or to their detriment. Perhaps this is why, in all the mystical and religious traditions, the 'mysteries and secrets' are never revealed to novices until they have proven to their elders that they will employ the knowledge that is revealed to them for the good of men, not to exploit them....

And in the traditions of primitive peoples, young people must undergo tests of their manhood and virtue before they are initiated into the knowledge and responsibilities of adulthood."

from Healthy Personality (1974), pp. 52-53