In chapter four of Richard Rohr's book From Wild Man to Wise Man - Reflections on Male Spirituality (cowritten with Joseph Martos), he paraphrases some of psychologist Anne Wilson Schaef's ideas on addiction and codependence.
Here's my paraphrasing of Rohr's paraphrasing.
The overwhelming majority of men in our society (especially white men) are addicted to certain ways of thinking, feeling and acting that keep our souls and consciousness trapped, and we're largely oblivious to this. We're no different than anyone addicted to cigarettes, alcohol or cocaine.
Our prison cells are built of four myths - our four walls.
1. The white male system is the only system there is.
-Money, power and status are the only things worth having.
-all vying for position, for a better job, for more money, for accolades within one's profession extend from this belief - that these external things will satisfy us, that they're worth dedicating our lives to.
2. The white male system is innately superior.
-There may be other systems in other places, but the people who follow them are naive, making them either quaint and amusing, or wrong and threatening.
-Anyone within this superior system can stand in judgment of anyone outside it. Women are weak, blacks are incompetent, Chicanos are lazy, the poor are unproductive and unambitious, etc.
-as Rohr says: "It is just the corporate shape of the inherent narcissism that characterizes all uninitiated people."
3. The white male system knows and understands everything.
-anything outside the system is unimportant, or doesn't really exist.
-those within the system are within their rights to decide what's best for everyone and the world itself. They're free to legislate policy, economy, even morality.
-the right to do this is a given to those in the system. Of course we're in charge. Of course we should be.
-Rohr: "In my opinion, this arrogance has actually taken religious form in much of western Christianity, and I say that after thirty-five happy years as a Catholic priest."
4. It is possible for us to be totally logical, rational and objective.
-anything worth knowing is objectifiable and quantifiable. It can fit under a law, a scientific system, a political schema.
-anything that can't be discerned through this system can be disregarded: feelings, thoughts, hopes, ideals, values.
Rohr comments that this last myth is what's particularly addictive. "People caught up in this system engage in very limited thinking and perceiving. It is all-or-nothing thinking, dualistic thinking, or you-are-either-with-me-or-against-me thinking. There is not much hope of creating a united anything."
-people caught up in this system will only see and feel things that confirm the rightness of their system. They'll feel moral even when being destructive, logical when being incoherent, reasonable when being irrational.
And then there's Schaef's fifth myth, the ceiling the four walls support:
It is therefore possible for us to be God.
-few white males would be so audacious as to admit to this belief, even to themselves, but it's the logical extension of believing you can know everything and define reality.
Rohr: "Call it patriotism, call it national self-interest, call it company loyalty or call it faithfulness to your church; the demand for unquestioning allegiance and blind obedience is the same demand that a drug makes on an addict. If people are to develop any deep spirituality today, and especially if men are to develop spiritually, they need to be liberated from self-serving worldviews. Male mythologies usually represented this as the necessary killing of the dragon. We just call it conversion, metanoia (new mind), repentance, transformation or initiation. Pick your preferred word, but every mature religion insists that it must happen, or we will not be situated correctly inside of the universe."