In Review: Thomas P. Malone and Patrick T. Malone; C. S. Lewis
Reflections on The Art of Intimacy, by Thomas P. Malone and Patrick T. Malone (New York: Prentice Hall Press, 1988).
The Art of Intimacy was authored by Dr. Thomas Malone and his son Dr. Patrick Malone. Dr. Thomas Malone is one of the major figures in American psychiatry. In this revolutionary book father and son expose “the fundamental failure of modern relationships.”1
. . . [T]he keystone of all relationships knowable to humans, the prototype out of which all our other relational models, whether familial, social, or cultural, are derived, is the human-to-human relationship.2
The Meaning of Being Relationally “Human”
Therefore, the fundamental purpose of this important reference work is to define and discuss what it means to be relationally “human” in the setting of everyday life. The authors show that —
1. To be human does not mean to withdraw into an autonomous “me.” “To live exclusively in one’s own personal space is to be psychotic.”3
2. To be human does not mean to project oneself wholly into the “other.” That is to be neurotic.
3. To be human does not mean that all “relatedness” is defined by the system — by religious, political, social, economic and cultural institutions.
We humans have become lost in our preoccupation with systems, the hierarchical, fixed organization of relationships, from the large systems of government, economy, society, religion, or work to the smaller systems of family, marriage, or simply you and me. . . .
When we become captured by our systems, we lose connection as I-other and . . . [become] instead . . . a “part of” something . . .4
. . . [T]he emphasis on system has diminished our interest in the intimate, energizing dyadic connection and thus jeopardized our ability to understand either the system or the self.5
4. To be human does mean the sharing relationship or connectedness of two human beings in what is known as intimacy.
“Selfing,” the experience of promoting connected, relational experience, the formative experience of intimacy, is not teachable but it is learnable. . . .
Being is a profound and complete commitment in life. It is not an exercise or hobby. . . . Commitment is total or is not there. That commitment is what being is about. And that is what we are afraid of, the power and responsibility of our own self-being. Part of our fear is that we cannot control, organize, or categorize being. When we are intimate, we do not “understand.” Being is not understandable; it is only experiential. It is life, not a program for life. We are fearful of being that free. We are fearful of that true spiritus.
. . . Being yourself with another precludes your being the agent of any other, including the authors of The Art of Intimacy. . . .
. . . [T]he only way you can increase your capacity for intimacy is to increase . . . your awareness (your consciousness) of what is occurring in you when you are related to another. . . . Intimacy is not consciousness of the other (what is outside you), but consciousness of self (consciousness of I-me/other).6
Aspects of “Consciousness of Self . . . (I-Me/Other)”
“We can describe those areas of ‘consciousness of self’ that, if increased, make intimacy more likely[:]
Free Choice. You have to choose. If you do not choose, there is no way to be with another. . . .
Moralness. Intimacy is a moral experience . . . in the spiritual sense of personal integrity. . . . In intimacy you must be yourself. Self is not negotiable. . . .
Acceptance. Acceptance of the other underlies all intimate experience. No personal openness is possible without acceptance. . . .
Self-responsibility. You feel totally and fully responsible for yourself when you are intimate with another. . . .
Attentiveness. You cannot be intimate if you do not listen. . . .
Risk-taking. To risk the insecurity of not knowing what the other really is makes intimacy more likely. . . .
Presence. Intimacy involves an experiential commitment that is not diluted by time. . . . [I]ntimacy is timeless. It is always present, never before or after. . . .
Naturalness. . . . Intimacy allows you to be your natural self. . . .
Participation. Intimacy is increased by your consciousness of the essential similarity of all humans, your participation in our commonality.
Personal Surrender. Intimacy includes your willingness to allow the other the relational opportunity to be himself or herself with you. . . . Personal surrender is not passivity, it is not placation, but an active and positive personal response. It invites sharing; it sets aside your own personal agenda. It is being with, the reciprocal of being. . . .
Reciprocity. We [“I” and “you”] are both responsible for our participation in relationship, in life. . . .
Engagement. Intimacy is a playful way of being. . . . Play is the only pathway to being able to “be part of” while remaining a self. Play includes art, sexuality, humor, and all other forms of nonintentional being. It is the only “doing” way to avoid capture by the system. . . .
Systemic Detachment. Intimacy is not systemic. . . . [No governmental, religious or personal system] can represent all truth. Only self, connected to the rest of what is, can do that. . . .
Creativity. Intimacy is an art. . . . [Art] is creativity. . . . [A]rt is being.7
Human Sexuality and the Christ Event
These aspects of intimacy, of the self, are probably best revealed in true human sexuality. The trust, love, passion, creativity, play, relationality and “I–Thou” of human sexuality profoundly define the human self. Perhaps it is for this reason that so many allusions to human sexuality occur in the Scriptures.
The numerous biblical references to brides and bridegrooms, to marriages and weddings, to “knowing,” to “seed [sperm],” etc., are all allusions to human sexuality. They represent a fundamental paradigm of the Christ event. For ages God the Creator was engaged in the systematic work of creating the universe and all creatures. Finally, in accordance with his plan, he became incarnate. His purpose was to complete his work, to fulfill the system of Creation. At Calvary that work was done, so that he could cry, “It is finished!” (John 19:30).
In the resurrection Christ came forth as the “Bridegroom,” the transcendent Human Self8 who longs for intimacy with his “bride” — the human race. Consequently, the promised presence of the Risen Self “with” humanity (Matthew 28:20) initiated a transformative “self-consciousness [selfhood] that apparently did not . . . exist [previously] . . . ” (cf. John 15:15).9 Now, with the Parousaic (Second Coming) union and consummation “at the door” (Revelation 3:20; 22:20), the “bride” is invited to abandon her preoccupation with the “it,” “me” and “I” and awaken to the free responsibility, privileges and eternally open future of the “I–Thou” human self. Indeed, the visible revelatory disclosure of the “Bridegroom” at the Parousia10 involves such a complete transformation of the “bride’s” human consciousness that, “ . . . when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). “ . . . [T]hen shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13: 12).
A Grief Observed, by C. S. Lewis (New York: Bantam Books, 1976).
“In April 1956, C. S. Lewis, a confirmed bachelor, married Joy Davidman, an American poet with two small children. After four brief, intensely happy years, Lewis found himself alone again, and inconsolable. To defend himself against the loss of belief in God, Lewis wrote this journal, an eloquent statement of rediscovered faith. In it he freely confesses his doubts, his rage, and his awareness of human frailty. In it he finds again the way back to life.”11
In a particularly moving statement, C. S. Lewis recounts his experience of intimacy with his wife Joy. This statement profoundly illuminates what it means to be “human”:
For we did learn and achieve something. There is, hidden or flaunted, a sword between the sexes till an entire marriage reconciles them. It is arrogance in us to call frankness, fairness, and chivalry “masculine” when we see them in a woman; it is arrogance in them to describe a man’s sensitiveness or tact or tenderness as “feminine.” But also what poor, warped fragments of humanity most mere men and mere women must be to make the implications of that arrogance plausible. Marriage heals this. Jointly the two become fully human. “In the image of God created He them.” Thus, by a paradox, this carnival of sexuality leads us out beyond our sexes.12
- Thomas P. Malone and Patrick T. Malone, The Art of Intimacy (New York: Prentice Hall Press, 1988), frontispiece. The Art of Intimacy is available from various booksellers listed in BookFinder at www.bookfinder.com/book/9780130470850/. (go back)
- Ibid., p. 2. (go back)
- Ibid., p. 44. (go back)
- Ibid., p. 3. (go back)
- Ibid., p. 4. (go back)
- Ibid, pp. 265, 266. (go back)
- Ibid, pp. 267-272. (go back)
- The early church father St. Basil of Caesarea (300?-379?) declared, “Christ is . . . the model of what it means to be human, the mirror in which I see reflected my own true face, and the incarnation . . . is at the same time the ‘birthday’ of the human race.” (go back)
- See T. J. J. Altizer, “Replies: The Self-Realization of Death,” chap. 6, in R. P. Scharlemann, ed., Theology at the End of the Century (Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1990), p. 131: “Now nothing is more important in that history than the historical advent of self-consciousness, a self-consciousness that apparently did not actually or fully exist until the advent of Christianity.” (go back)
- The Greek word parousia, translated, means both “presence” and “coming.” (go back)
- C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed (New York: Bantam Books, 1976), end matter. A Grief Observed is available from Barnes & Noble at www.barnesandnoble.com/w/grief-observed-c-s-lewis/1100616072. (go back)
- Ibid., p. 58. (go back)
This article was originally published December 1991 under the Quest imprint.
Last Revised September 2011