In an e-mail to Wilber, I asked whether he thought his earlier works still stand. He responded:
"Yes, most early stuff is still true, just not mentioned as much. And yes, you have to figure
out which is not true! Smiles, Ken" (10/9/2008)
[Note: This page is in process. Further developments coming soon.]
In Wilber's book,Integral Psychology (2000), he organized in a series of charts over 100 developmental theories grouped according to some general lines, such as "self-related" lines, ego, cognition, affect, worldviews, morality/ethics, values, defenses, psychosocial, relational exchange and sociocultural (lower quadrants), spiritual, contemplative/mystical, etc. Wilber had begun charting some lines 20 years earlier in The Atman Project (1980). Throughout his earlier books, he integrated the deepest of the spiritual traditions with the deepest of the psychological theories. Spiritual mysticism meets psychological mysticism, when psychology explores the vast territory of the unconscious (psychoanalysis, self psychology, object relations, ego psychology, drive theory). Although Wilber doesn't list all the psychodynamic and ego psychology theorists in the charts, he names them as influential in his thinking about lines (Integral Psychology, 2000, Note 2, pp. 224-5).
We can actually take any human quality and imagine how a child, a normally mature adult, and an extremely wise, mature, deep person (ultimately, a saint-sage) might express that quality. Consider love: what is different between how a child and adult experience and express love? What about humor, a baseball pitching arm, money-spending habits, clothing preferences? You can do your own informal pilot study and ask people of different ages what they think their habits are (see the Psychograph page).
The most important lines relevant to therapy and growth work are ego (also called the self-system), emotional/affective, cognitive, social, moral, world view, and spiritual. Of those, ego, emotional and cognitive lines predict for me most of a person's likely responses. Therapists are attuned to emotions, especially because people come in already focused on painful ones. Popular writers and researchers on emotional development have conceptualized it not as depth therapists would, but call it "social-emotional" or "emotional intelligence (cf. my paper onemotional development).
Emotions and somatic sensibility are vitally important, parallel with cognition and both being coordinated and processed by the ego, the sine qua non of a developing structure (from Freud to present theorists). The ego--the localized "I"--does not only make meaning; it makes sense. In third person terminology (you can replace "ego" with "I" in the following:) Ego is the seat of localized awareness (cf. my ego paper). Mostly operating outside conscious awareness (see Layers), the ego selectively directs attention, toward and away from the array of inner and outer stimuli. Its processes are mostly unconscious, and it is, for the Integralist, in cahoots with the Ground of Being to "involve and evolve" (see the Wilber books listed on the References page). Ego employs thoughts and language, feelings, spatial senses, analogic symbols, inspirations, use of time and space, and more. the egoic bodymind is the kosmic expression of eros in Wilber's terms (e.g., Sex, Ecology, Spirituality). It is autopoietic throughout its development and needs a balance of agency, communion, stability, and growthful change. Ego balances the pleasure principle and reality principle, gate-keeping stimuli for inner stability, and it interprets what subtler consciousness states mean for everyday life.
Wilber, Vaughan, and Walsh describe the ego's trajectory in an outer and inner arc (which overlap but vary in emphasis). We develop a personal wholeness--a self-system with ego strength that can withstand common threats to integrity (good-enough self esteem, neither too much nor too little). We fundamentally need to effectively "work and love" in adulthood--that is, be able to make a living and maintain at least one meaningful relationship. Once these fundamentals are established enough for basic needs (Maslow's deficiency needs), we're cleared to emphasize the inward arc.
Life seems to be all about learning, no matter what we do. Experiential education. In old age we love mobility andour marbles. Why not consciously go into that good night? Middle age is the second adolescence. Early aging could be the magic age of meditation, the culmination of love and presencing, the expansion of ego's self-identity to self-transcendence. In an enlightened society, it could be the age of mushrooms and LSD guided field trips and personal trainers (saging, not mearly aging). It could be suicide sanghas: when's the best time and best way to go on purpose? If the atheists are right and there's nothing after death, no harm done. If bardos are real, if between-lives are real, we enter with training. We've cleaned our shadows. Lucky Steve Jobs on his death bed, quoted as saying, "Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow."
Four quadrant research is needed to help develop Integral theory. We need to read Wilber's books carefully and take the abstruse, important parts and improve our model of development which includes states of consciousness as well as stages. We need immediately to clarify our definitions of immaturity-maturity, pathology-supra mental health, and intelligence (like an I.Q.) vs. a line (like cognition).
Next: Levels of developmental lines
Lines of Development