Throughout these pages I will be contrasting two moral philosophies,
which I will refer to, for lack of better terms, as the idea of character
and the idea of health (or, simply, character and health)..
the remnants of Victorianism, Calvinism, Puritanism, etc.
based on these ideas:
people are inherently evil
goodness results from willpower, self-control
many people are not capable of this much self-control
so you must be always on your guard
you must dominate others or be dominated by them
most people are selfish
in a world of selfish people you must be selfish yourself or be taken
the moral philosophy implied in "personal growth" literature of the
1970's, 80's and 90's
Trauma and Recovery, by Judith Lewis Herman
The Drama of the Gifted Child, by Alice Miller
Codependent No More, by Melody Beattie
The Dance of Anger, by Harriet Goldhor Lerner
I have not attempted to represent the views of any particular writer.
In fact, I have in places exaggerated the views I call character and health.
Character and Health to try to describe two
I have often found held simultaneously by one or another contemporary of mine.
These two views seem to me to be often in direct opposition to each other.
I thought it might be useful to attempt to portray
the two views on a variety of issues, to point up the contrast between them.
It may be useful for some readers to imagine that "character" and
two people, giving us their views on a variety of moral issues.
For some, "character" may best be seen as a man, and "health" a woman.
Two strangers who find themselves seated next to each other on a long plane
talking about the people in their lives as, beneath them,
mountains and valleys and rivers and the lights of cities move slowly by...