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Marion Woodman – Addiction to Perfection

ADDICTION TO PERFECTION

This book is about taking the head off an evil witch. Lady Macbeth, glued to the sticking-place of insatiable power, unable to countenance failure to the point of rejecting life, will serve as a symbol of the woman robbed of her femininity through her pursuit of masculine goals that are in themselves a parody of what masculinity really is. ~Marion Woodman, Addiction to Perfection, Page 7

And though in Shakespeare’s tragedy it is Macbeth who is beheaded, the head he loses is fatally infected by the witches’ evil curse. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are metaphors of the masculine and feminine principles functioning in one person or in a culture… ~Marion Woodman, Addiction to Perfection, Page7

The deteriorating relationship between them clearly demonstrates the dynamics of evil when the masculine principle loses its standpoint in its own reality, and the feminine principle of love succumbs to calculating, intellectualized ambition. ~Marion Woodman, Addiction to Perfection, Page 7

Shakespeare’s beheading of his hero-villain is, in the total context of the play, the healing of the country. This book is about a beheading. It has been hewn out of the hard rock of an addiction to perfection. ~Marion Woodman, Addiction to Perfection, Page 7

A Greek version of the witch motif concerns Medusa, a beautiful woman until she offended the goddess Athena… In reprisal, Athena changed Medusa’s hair into snakes and made her face so hideous that all who looked on her were turned to stone. ~Marion Woodman, Addiction to Perfection, Page 7

If we look at the modern Athenas sprung from their father’s foreheads, we do not necessarily see liberated women. Many of them have proven beyond question that they are equal to or better than men: excellent doctors, excellent mechanics, excellent business consultants. But they are also, in many cases unhappy women. ~Marion Woodman, Addiction to Perfection, Page 9

I have everything,’ they say. ‘Perfect job, perfect house, perfect clothes, so what? What does it all add up to? There’s got to be more than this. I was born, I died, I never lived.’ Often, behind the scenes, they are chained to some addiction: food, alcohol, constant cleaning, perfectionism, etc. ~Marion Woodman, Addiction to Perfection, Page 9

I am convinced that the same problem is at the root of all addictions. The problem manifests differently, of course, with the individual, but within everyone there are collective patterns and attitudes that unconsciously influence behavior. ~Marion Woodman, Addiction to Perfection, Page 9

One of these patterns is illustrated in Athena’s cruel revenge on the once beautiful Medusa, whose snaky locks twist and writhe in constant agitation, reaching, reaching, reaching, wanting more and more and more. ~Marion Woodman, Addiction to Perfection, Page 9

Is it possible that the modern Athena is not in contact with her Medusa because somewhere back in the dark patriarchal ages she was shut up in a cave? Our generation scarcely knows of her existence, but she is making her presence increasingly felt… ~Marion Woodman, Addiction to Perfection, Page 9

This book looks into the heart of the driven Athena, the anguish of the writhing Medusa, and suggest ways of releasing the maiden into her vibrant womanhood before she is sacrificed to the perfection of death. ~Marion Woodman, Addiction to Perfection, Page 9

Only by loving our own maiden, and allowing her to find the deep down passion within herself, can we dare to open ourselves to the raging goddess at the core of the addiction. Only through love can we transform her and allow her to transform us. ~Marion Woodman, Addiction to Perfection, Page 14

The I Ching, the Chinese Book of Changes, recognizes the continual shifts that go on within the individual. The Yang power, the creative masculine, moves ahead with steadfast perseverance toward a goal until it becomes too strong, begins to break—and then the Yin, the receptive feminine, enters from below and gradually moves toward the top. Life is a continual attempt to balance these two forces. ~Marion Woodman, Addiction to Perfection, Page 14

With growing maturity the individual is able to avoid the extreme of either polarity, so that the pendulum does not gain too much momentum by swinging too far to the right only to come crashing back to the left in a relentless cycle of action and reaction, inflation and depression. ~Marion Woodman, Addiction to Perfection, Page 15

Rather one recognizes that these poles are the domain of the gods, the extremes of black and white. To identify with one or the other can only lead to plunging into its opposite. The ratio is cruelly exact. The further I move into the white radiance on one side, the blacker the energy that is unconsciously constellating behind my back: the more I force myself to perfect my ideal image of myself, the more overflowing toilet bowls I’m going to have in my dreams. ~Marion Woodman, Addiction to Perfection, Page 15

As human creatures, not gods, we must go for the grey, the steady solid line that makes its serpentine way only slightly to left and right down the middle course between the opposites. ~Marion Woodman, Addiction to Perfection, Page 15

Essentially I am suggesting that many of us—men and women—are addicted in one way or another because our patriarchal culture emphasizes specialization and perfection.… Working so hard to create our own perfection we forget that we are human beings. ~Marion Woodman, Addiction to Perfection, Page 9