Normal Crazy vs. Extra Crazy: Disarming Your Defensive States

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We in Integral Land are fascinated with development and personal evolution. We discover ourselves anew again and again, for better and worse, through each developmental stage as it manifests through us. Hopefully, as we live, love, and practice, we support our own personal evolution into the freedom of integral consciousness, where we have so many more choices. The price of stability at the integral altitude is committing to ever deeper awareness of regressions and fixations — allergies and addictions — inevitable components of our human incarnation package.

Every stage shares joy, sorrow, insight, grief, trauma, love, lust, rage, jealousy, clarity, delusion, etc. When we feel safe, we are usually comfortably social with ourselves and others. When we feel threatened, our nervous systems (our adaptive unconscious, our Shadow selves) can generate defensive states to protect us. These states amplify or numb emotions, distort perspectives, pump out destructive impulses, and diminish self-reflection and empathy.

Most of us are normal crazy when threatened — we become distorted but can soothe ourselves back to clarity and social engagement, often supported by caring influence from others.

All of us have had at least some moments where we’re extra crazy — we refuse self/other regulation, defend our distortions, and double down on destructive impulses. To some, extra crazy is a constant threat and burden, and the developmental challenge is to grow from extra crazy to normal crazy.

As above, so below. In a holographic universe, culture reflects individuals and vice versa. I’ve found that cultural crazy/extra crazy becomes more visible to me the more visible my normal/extra crazy becomes to me. Perceive self more clearly to perceive culture more clearly.

The What NOW Conference
December 29 - January 1

Welcome to the era of disruption.

It seems clear we are heading into one of the most disruptive periods of human history the world has ever known. And even now, what we currently see is just a hint of the incredibly disruptive forces that are waiting just behind the curtain — automation, genetics, artificial intelligence, etc. — ready to descend upon our civilization and force us to discover new strategies of coexistence.

But of course, in these times of rampant disruption there is also newfound opportunity for fresh ideas to emerge, to replace outmoded ideas that are generating an enormous amount of evolutionary friction, and to begin reshaping our notions of the world, our work, and our shared future.

This is why we are holding our What Now conference this New Year — to help you navigate and explore the era of massive worldwide disruption that we now find ourselves in, and to discover the inner resiliency and adaptability we need — not only to survive this breakneck era of transformation, but to thrive and actively participate in its unfolding.

Keith Witt

About Keith Witt

Dr. Keith Witt is a Licensed Psychologist, teacher, and author who has lived and worked in Santa Barbara, CA. for over forty years. Dr. Witt is also the founder of The School of Love.

Corey deVos

About Corey deVos

Corey W. deVos is the proverbial "man behind the curtain". He is Editor-in-Chief of Integral Life, as well as Managing Editor of He has worked for Integral Institute/Integal Life since Spring of 2003, and has been a student of integral theory and practice since 1996.

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