Photo of J'aime ona Pangaia

The Killer Critic

by J'aime ona Pangaia
Copyright 2013


A question about the “Killer Critic” from a student:
Hi J’aime,
You spoke at one of our intensives about the Killer Critic, who is self-destructive, as being different than an Inner Critic, who might simply want us to fit in. I am also aware of the Voice Dialogue idea that all of our selves need to be heard and honored. I am hesitant to attempt or suggest "eradication" of any self. Can you elaborate on this topic?
Thank you ~ S.B.
Good questions!
First, an elaboration on honoring the selves. My view on honoring the selves is not sentimental; it's a more impersonal attitude, as in “Ah yes, there this is.' I recognize/ embrace the reality that it exists without embellishment, without rejecting or clutching at it, without emotional flavoring. Simply: here, this is.” This is really speaking now to the quality that Awareness brings.
Freud was a proponent of the idea that there is a 'death drive'. (for a quickie on this, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_drive). Or another interesting reference of many thinkers on Life & Death instincts: http://ljhammond.com/cwgt/13.htm
As for the Killer Critic, the Hal and Sidra Stone (founders of Voice Dialogue) don't talk about this in terms of instinct, rather, it's a self (or you could say, in Jungian terms, a 'complex') that gets constellated as a result of number of cascading factors. These could be: having inflexible Perfectionist, an inner Jehovah type religious self who believes in ultimate punishments and unforgivable actions, a highly judgmental /controlling upbringing, etc. This Killer Critic then, is a part that wants you to die because it sees you as being completely worthless, irredeemable and a big mistake to have even been born. The Stones don't talk about embracing this murderous critic, in the sense of honoring/taking that message as a part of truth, rather they/I would say we hear this and ALL selves with the purpose of separating from identifying with it. That's the level of choice we're aiming at. "Here this is, here that is, and that, and as I hold (objective, non-attached) awareness of these selves and the energies they express; now, how am I going to live my life?" That's the Aware Ego Process. Holding differing energies and then acting with that Still Awareness of those selves. This is the place where the Aware Ego has real choice. When the ego is identified with that Killer Critic, you don’t have choice because you are being that Killer Critic. And there’s really only one thing that that Killer Critic will do - hate you to death.
What is eradicated in Voice Dialogue is not selves, but our fixed identification with them. Someone who is identified with a Killer Critic is certainly at a high risk for suicide out of self-hatred . Someone who is aware of that Killer Critic, yet not identified with it, and is also in touch with opposing perspectives / energies (such as Self- Acceptance) is not at risk for suicide out of self -hatred.
How do we accomplish this? Unfortunately, not simply through knowledge of this perspective that I’m presenting. Voice Dialogue is both a psychological philosophy and a practice. It is the consciousness practice of Voice Dialogue facilitation that supports the dis-identification with selves. I could make an analogy here. Buddhism is a philosophy. Meditation is a practice to support people in experiencing the freedom (liberation) that the Buddha taught about in his philosophy. While the philosophy is helpful and attractive to many, the information alone does not liberate us. We need to experience the nonattachment that the Buddha taught. It’s the same with Voice Dialogue. One can be well versed in this philosophy, but if you have a Killer Critic, you’ll still kill yourself in selfhatred. There’s power and hope from knowledge, but wisdom and peace from practice.
The Voice Dialogue facilitation practice creates the favorable consciousness conditions for separating from identifications with inner selves. They’re still there, but we are no longer fixedly identified with them. We begin to have choice, we begin to feel a richness of possibilities of how we can engage in life as a more complex being, we begin to be freer of negative judgements. We honor this complexity but become less and less ruled by fear, woundedness, shame, protection, and all the selves that we’ve been socialized to become. Again, the fear, the wounds, the need for protection - it’s all there, but these selves are no longer in charge of our lives. They no longer define ‘who we are’. We still have a personality, but it is more flexible and aligned with our deepest Source.