Psychotherapy and Meditation: Developmental Stages in “Self”

This classic, penetrating essay by Jack Engler considers borderline and schizoid personality organizations to be a very common and more troublesome meditation hindrance for westerners than the classic Five Hindrances of Buddhist literature: 

Therapeutic Aims in Psychotherapy and Meditation: Developmental Stages in Representations of Self

My interest in this article is at least threefold for pragmatics:


Basic Trust is a prerequisite for the surrender necessary for insight into Suffering to be fully engaged and for the practice to advance.

Unhelpful “No-Self” Language

There are serious risks attending enlightenment goals articulated by westerners as translations of anatta to “no-self” (which is precisely why I won’t be using the term “no-self” in my own pragmatic manual, and why I will not be speaking of “deleting selfing processes” – will pertain to sections about terminology used, need to understand basic Buddhist theory, and careful goal formation). The goal is not to delete the self; the healthier goal is a more expansive understanding of one’s true nature as vast, timeless, and interdependent with all others. That nature makes everything formerly threatening not personal but as intimate as it is integrated with the nondual interconnected field of humanity.

Lack of Embodiment as Intensified Personality Pathology

See my related post, “The Risks of Masculine Practice Paradigms,” and, for deep discussion of the schizoid process in general, see Gary Yontef’s article at

Psychotherapy of Schizoid Process