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Hero’s Journey Step 8 – Descent into the underworld

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Knowing one’s self is to know the depth you have gone and how much worse you are capable of. The descent is a process of working out your emotions. When we do have an emotion we work out what that emotion is. There are but a few emotional driving neurotransmitters or peptides that the neurons have to communicate with each other.  hence we have the chemicals flowing throughout our brain and body, then we need to put these chemical exchanges into context with the situation we are in or after the intense encounter has passed.

Just to illustrate this, You may have had an intense meeting with your boss. at the time of the meeting, you deal with each question and or accusation as they come. Of course, the body is flooding with adrenaline and other Flight or Fight neurotransmitters. The meeting may have a favorable outcome or not. However, after the meeting, you start understanding what the hell just went on inside you. Your first thought may be to kill or harm the boss. Then this thought moves on to “how dear the boss think that of me”. then finally you feel hurt for being questioned like that. it may take some time before understanding comes and you think that there was knowledge to be taken away from that encounter.

Here you can see the process. the chemicals rushing through your body were responding to a life or death threat. This came from the limbic system and thalamus of the brain. Your prefrontal lobe is now putting this all into context. Thus the emotions are interpreted as Anxiety. This information is now stored in your long-term memory and for future meetings that you need to see the boss for good or bad things, it will eeliest the feeling of anxiety. we have just conditioned our self. For me, this conditioned response started when I was at school. I was called to the teacher’s office a few times to receive punishment “The cane” from them for something stupid I did in class or in the playground. Even now when I go to the boss to have a talk I get anxious, even when he is some 30 years my junior. 

I recall a journal article I read at university. I wish I could give you a reference for it. Well. The experiment was that of understanding how the activation of the fear response could elites a strong emotional response for attractiveness. The first part of the experiment took place on a suspension bridge. and they put a person in the middle of the bridge. The participants crossing the bridge were to score the attractiveness of the person in the middle of the bridge. Once with one sex and then of the other sex in the middle of the bridge. They both scored high on attractiveness. Then when the experiment was taken to a shopping mall, with the same people to be scored. In this new setting, the two people scored a lot lower. Thus we can see that the same neurochemicals used for fear in the body are used for attraction however the context causes us to reinterpret the physical function of the body chemistry.

Hence, as I have heard so many times from clients. “It’s your fault that I am like this. you think I am a mess. You have not seen a mess, I can show you what a mess looks like”. thus they go on this path of destruction.  This happens when the context of your surroundings and the neurochemicals are not understood and the emotions become elevated and out of context. This is when the monster within comes out.

Most of this is taught from childhood. The parent that gives in to a child wanting the chips at the checkout in the supermarket, having a tantrum. that Mother or Farther has just taught the child that a tantrum is a key to get what they want out of anyone. Watching an adult having a tantrum because they are not getting what they want is a sad sight. We all have descended to the underworld or the darkest regions of the self without intention, we have gone there driven by our emotions and running on auto-pilot.

As we become more in control of our emotions we can then take a rational look at the abyss, the underworld, where the dark side of our self lives and rains. It is only through a social convention that we keep our worst version of ourselves at bay. However, we are all too often quite willing to call on it to get our way. But to go there as a mental experiment, with full control to discover your weaknesses and fears is a must to become a better and stronger person. We go there on a quest of self-knowledge, to retrieve power over our fears.

By knowing our fear, facing our fear, then confronting the fear, we conquer the fear. with practice, we overcome that fear and it no longer has power over you. The fear of loss is a great motivator for a person to do some horrific things. Loss of love, loss of freedom, loss of power, loss of control,  loss of stability, financial or otherwise. Fear is the greatest killer of success and can paralyze a person into inaction. So to be in fear we will chop off a limb to get away from that which brings on fear, or the opposite, we will kill the one that causes the fear, to take it to the extreme.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy, CBT, works well with phobias that all too often control our actions, to avoid that which we fear. Take a fear of heights, CBT will give you a guided program to overcome that fear. Decision-making is another fear that we have and CBT will help with that as well. That which we avoid most violently is what we need to face. This is what it means to enter the underworld on purpose, or with a purpose.

If we look at our life and see what life we will have living with that fear, and we do not like living with that fear. We must face it to have a better existence. Fear is a call to action to get out of the prison we have our self in.

Breaking out of Victimhood can be the hardest state of mind to overcome. Being in the mindset of victimhood is being of the mindset that you are not in control of your life. That all the bad stuff that happens, happens to you and that you do not have a part to play in your suffering. Being in the state of victimhood is a safe place to be with its own payoffs. Firstly you are not responsible for everything that happens to you, or so you believe. and secondly, you gain support and attention from others that may want to help you. Then dismiss their help with the excuse that it will not work. The dark reality is that taking ownership of the part you play in being a victim is berried in the underworld because of how to want to admit their own responsibility of being a victim of your own actions. That’s just stupid. Just as the damsel in distress is waiting for the knight in shining armor to save her, not even contemplating that she could just walk down the stairs to get out.  The damsel places herself in the high tower to put herself on display telling the world that she is hard done by. Not wanting to, or not realizing that she is her only savior if she takes matters in her own hands. By the way, The Damsel is just an archetype, I have met many a man that can easily be called damsels in distress. Likewise, I have met many a woman that has been the knight in shining armor to save him from misery and get sucked into a life of sorrow. There is a lot you can read about being trapped in victimhood out there. Here I but one page you can look at

I was taught from a young age that for every type of behaviour there is a payoff. What if those behaviours were maladaptive behaviour, doing them for the only purpose you have, the value of the payoff. These beasts that feed our addiction to behaviour is a way of being noticed, holding on to what we have, or fighting for what we want, in the evilest of ways. However, addiction is just that, a short term fix to that ever-hungry beast that needs feeding. Some get a kick out of a good power trip, bossing people around and putting people in their place. The payoff here is short term dopamine hit that just wants more. Then there is some time that the dopamine is not feeding the addiction so the person needs to power trip more to get another hit. Then just like heroin, the person needs to go beyond the previous level of power-tripping to get the same hit. Before too long you build a narcissist that needs to dominate others to get that internal feeling of bliss.

When I was at University (Uni), we all laughed at the concept of Mastibatory Conditioning to create a sexual deviant and rapist. But then when we were further into the lesson understanding the concept with immature eyes, we understood the sadness of this type of conditioning a person conducts on themself. Broadening the concept for other types of behaviours that need to be fed by the suffering of others. We become to understand how those toxic people are formed and how it can develop a person to be violent in a relationship. Taking this concept to the other extreme to a person that needs to be over validated by others will be addicted to the validation and then become a person that will destroy others so that they will get validation from their In Group. Validation is a beast that needs constant feeding when a person becomes addicted to praise from others. It becomes a strong motivator for behaviour that become destructive to their own wider reputation and to their targets. But the beast needs feeding. 

Being a show-off is another form of validation from within their ingroup. Their drug is the attention from others and for people to give them praise for their hearing behaviour. Stage stunt people, sword-swallowers and magicians, go on stage to get their dopamine fix by doing the dangerous act or by getting the WoWs from the audience. If a person does anything for or to others just to feed the beast of addictive behaviour this is destructive in the long run. For one day and a time will most assuredly come, when all our wisdom and abilities will fail us and we will all be reduced in stature by age and eventually to the same state when death comes for us all, that great leveller of human greatness. 


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