Dissolution of the ego
Through the sacrifice of castration, hence phallic disempowerment, the ego is destroyed, brought down to nothing. When the male gives up power, he does so unwillingly, but once begun, like the nine-month-old fetus in the womb, there is no turning back. The all encompassing elementary character of the maternal feminine tends to dissolve the ego and consciousness into the unconscious, back into the body, through infancy and beyond into birth through which the self originally emerged, back into the body of the mother, a source of creative expansion and regenerative power.
Heroic man avoids shame and castration in order to avoid a feeling worse than death, but the heroic in man faces it, the death of his ego and, hence, the loss of his phallic power. This aspect of the inner work on shame is fraught with danger, often with mortal peril, but necessary in the process of coming to terms with the fundamental aspects of one’s basic humanity (from the womb to the tomb), without false consolations and the illusions of omnipotence. Facing shame is the apocalypse of an ego that no longer holds together, and so things become worse before getting better. A man is cast out of his patriarchal nature to an equivalent degree that he faces his shame as its fatal flaw - indeed, the greater the confidence in his ego image, the greater his shame and humiliation will be, an idea supported by the current upsurge of billionaire and CEO suicides in the wake of the economic crisis. These men had clearly become prisoners to the kind of success they wanted to obtain. Had they been able to face their shame, they may have become free to realize the real shame of their situations, which “breaks the spirit out of its conditioned prison” (Becker, 1973: 86).
The pain of shame means having the humility to take responsibility for what has been done, and acknowledging that he has transgressed or violated the values for which he cares. In Medusa’s stare man brings that which is under consciousness into consciousness; he affirms what has been denied, raises up into living memory that which has been repressed, develops sight rather than staying blind, speaks the lie in the truth and the truth in the lie, negates the story of history as told by the patriarchy, and restores that which is primary and maternal to a privileged position. In this process a man sees past his distortions into reality, a full sight of the victimization of which he is capable - the blinding of the The Eternal Feminine. In grasping this negative moment, the projection is internalized; the terrifyingly demonic is recognized as an aspect of his self.