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Fire Burning in My Head

A Psychologist’s Self-Study Reveals How Madness May Enrich Your Life in Diverse Cultures

by David Y. F. Ho (Author)
©2023 Monographs XXIV, 422 Pages

Summary

Written by a professor of clinical psychology, this book is accessible to thoughtful readers interested in the relation between spirituality and mental disorders. It comprises two main parts: The first part tells the story of how a psychologist-cum-patient performs a self-study of "madness" in great detail. It belongs to the long tradition of ideographic studies that attend to the uniqueness of each individual.
The author says: "During episodes, manic symptoms are manifest. Yet, I become more colorful, sensitive, generous, and loving. I see beauty everywhere and delight in the simple things of life. I glimpse into mystical magnanimity. All these inform me that my quest for spirituality is wedded to madness. Now, I can bear testimony that on balance the creative energy of madness may enrich rather than damage one’s life. It is possible to retain a measure of madness in dignified living and of dignity even in a state of madness."
Adhering to the nomothetic tradition of knowledge generation, the second part gives extensive coverage to various aspects of mental disorders from a scientific perspective, including the ethical, political, and sociocultural contexts in which mental disorders occur. It resolves apparent contradictions between dualities, such as normality and abnormality, individualism and collectivism, and Eastern and Western values.
In the end, the reader may learn that it is possible to harness the creative energy of madness to enrich one’s spiritual life—a topic that can hardly be found in psychiatric texts.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • Book About the author
  • About the Book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Foreword
  • Preface
  • Part I. Discoveries from a Self-Study of Madness
  • 1. Tales from My Two Worlds
  • Psychohistory: Personal Experiences Reflect Historical Social Reality
  • Family Background: Continuities and Departures from Tradition
  • From Childhood to Grandparenthood
  • The Age of Turbulence: Adolescence and Early Adulthood
  • Reverse Culture Shock in an Anachronistic University
  • The Golden Age of My Life
  • From Marginality to World Citizenship: The Will to Master
  • My Spiritual Journey Is Incomplete
  • 2. Episodes of Madness: All of Exuberance, None of Depression
  • Glimpses into the Mystical-Transcendental
  • Loneliness and Anguish amid Exuberance
  • Aesthetic Sensibilities: Music, Art, Creative Writing
  • Extraordinary Experiences: Audacity or the Courage-to-Be?
  • The Empty Mind: Gone with Repression and Overcontrol
  • Caught between the Challenges and Rewards of Hypomania
  • A Hypomanic Episode in China
  • A Living Buddha in a Schizophrenic City
  • Later Hypomanic Episodes in America
  • A Summation: Unanswered Questions
  • 3. Madness Has Enriched My Life
  • A Self-Study of Unipolar Mania and Hypomania
  • On Being Strange in Normality as in Madness
  • Sequential Learning and Coping: Practical Suggestions
  • Body-Mind-Spirit Interconnectedness
  • Dialogic Action Therapy
  • Dynamic Relaxation and Meditation
  • Coping with Depression
  • Life as a Playful Journey: Intercultural Encounters
  • 4. From Psychiatry to Spirituality
  • An Early Case Study of and by My Own Self
  • Observing the Workings of the Mind
  • Spiritual Fulfillment Versus Spiritual Emptiness: A Dynamic Process
  • Relational and Ecumenical Spirituality
  • Witnessing My Ineptitude and Decline: Acceptance
  • 5. Glimpses of Enlightenment in the Midst of Madness
  • Fleeting Experiences of Enlightenment
  • Dialectics between Spirituality and Madness
  • In Love with Madness
  • Poetry and Spirituality Drive Each Other
  • 6. In Search of Transcultural Spirituality-in-Communion
  • Insights from the East: Psychological Decentering
  • Selflessness in Philosophical Daoism and Buddhism
  • Ambivalence Toward Christianity
  • Spirituality-in-Communion or Spirituality-in-Isolation?
  • Quakers and Unitarian Universalists
  • A Religious Experience
  • 7. Epilogue: I’m Getting There
  • Back to the Original Question
  • Sharing My Karma with Fellow Travelers
  • The Art of Loving for All Seasons
  • Part II. Transcending the Clash of Opposites
  • Thematic Grouping of Chapters
  • Rejecting the Pseudodichotomy Between Nomothetic and Ideographic Studies
  • Thematic Group 1. Normality Versus Abnormality
  • 8 Madness as Creative Energy: Self-Observations
  • A Self-Diagnosis
  • Diagnostic Issues
  • The Place of Madness in Creativity
  • The High Costs of Cognitive Superefficiency
  • Conclusion
  • 9. Psychiatric Diagnosis and Its Pitfalls
  • Liberation from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Cultural Relativism and the Definition of Abnormality
  • Dialectical Tension between the Particular and the Universal
  • Is Your Child Suffering from ADHD?
  • Concluding Remarks
  • 10. Psychopathology of Religious Luminaries
  • Religiosity and Madness
  • George Fox and Quakerism: The Tortuous Road of a Religious Movement
  • Duality of Good and Evil
  • Concluding Thoughts
  • Thematic Group 2. Individual Versus Collective Madness
  • 11. Societal Mental Health Crises in America and China
  • The Mental Health Crisis in America
  • Psychology and Psychiatry in China
  • Concluding Thoughts
  • 12. Values Underlying Mental Health Practice
  • The Limitations of Psychologism
  • Self-Reliance Rooted in Individualism
  • Crisis in Values
  • Loneliness Is Lethal
  • Reallocate Resources: Put Prevention First
  • Concluding Thoughts
  • 13. The Trump Phenomenon and the Politics of an Unholy Alliance
  • Trump and the Trump Phenomenon
  • The Unholy Alliance
  • Reportage: Personal Encounters with Evangelicals
  • Absolutism and the Closing of the Mind
  • The Price to Be Paid: A Surrender of Self-Ownership
  • Will America Become a Theocracy?
  • Concluding Thoughts
  • Thematic Group 3. Eastern Versus Western Culture
  • 14. Two Ways of Life: Chinese and American
  • Individualism and Collectivism: A Dialectical Approach
  • Empirical Evidence: Dubious Comparisons between Americans and Chinese
  • Two Ways of Life
  • Concluding Thoughts
  • 15. Growing Up in the People’s Republic of China: Culture, Ideology, and Policy
  • Continuities and Departures from Tradition
  • Socioeconomic and Psychological Costs of the One-Child Policy
  • Conclusion
  • 16. The Oedipal Myth and Family Pathology in Literature
  • Reinterpreting the Oedipal Myth
  • Patricide Versus Filicide and Violence Toward Children
  • Pathogenic Demands of Culture
  • The Perils of Challenging Authority
  • Concluding Thoughts
  • Thematic Group 4. Spirituality Versus Spiritual Emptiness
  • 17. Transforming Madness for Dignified Existence
  • Construct Explication
  • Are Madness and Violence Necessarily Connected?
  • Madness-in-Dignity and Dignity-in-Madness
  • Summary and Conclusions
  • 18. Spirituality and Spiritual Emptiness: Toward Transcultural Applicability
  • The Multidimensional Evaluations of Spirituality (MES)
  • Dialectics of Fulfillment and Emptiness
  • Strategies for Transcultural Applicability
  • Dimensions of the MES
  • Discussion
  • Appendix A.  Multidimensional Evaluation of Spirituality (MES)
  • Reflectiveness-Decentering Versus Dogmatism-Egocentricity
  • Heightened Sensibilities Versus Psychic Numbing/Turmoil
  • Acceptance Versus Denial
  • Humility Versus Arrogance
  • Existential Quest Versus Hedonistic-Materialistic Pursuits
  • Transcendence Versus Self-Encapsulation
  • Self-Actualization Versus Alienation
  • Appendix B.  Strategies of Coping
  • Forbearance Versus Intolerance
  • Forgiveness Versus Vengefulness
  • Hope Versus Despair
  • Meaning Reconstruction Versus Entrenchment
  • Appendix C.  Highlights of 22 Episodes of Madness, Diaries, and a Free Association
  • Appendix D.  Expressive Dance to Music: A Royal Road to Holistic Health (Explanatory Notes)
  • Appendix E.  The Undiscovered Illness: The Opposite of Depression (Excerpts from Scientific American, March 2019, reproduced here with permission)
  • References
  • Index

←xiv | xv→




Foreword

David Ho’s latest offering is truly an extraordinary book. The author, himself a clinical psychologist, undertakes a self-study of his own “madness.” He describes his episodes of mania and hypomania in great detail. His firsthand experiences lead to insights about spirituality and growth, both personal and professional.

Audacious assertions are made throughout the book. Suffice to select a few that stir up the mind as does an earthquake high on the Richter magnitude shake the ground. First, madness provides the creative energy that may, on balance, enrich rather than damage a person’s life. Second, the psychiatric establishment, accustomed to the deficit model of thinking in terms of psychopathology, has largely failed to acknowledge the potentially positive or creative aspects of madness. Third, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the “bible of psychiatric diagnosis,” is largely responsible for the closing of minds in psychiatry. Fourth, the author has had only manic or hypomanic episodes and no depression of clinical severity; thus, to label such a person as a patient suffering from a bipolar mood disorder would lead to a “conceptual-linguistic conundrum.”

The author has articulated his defense for these assertions logically and forcefully, backed by evidence derived from empirical research as well as his intensive ←xv | xvi→self-study. He has also exercised caution against making excessive claims. He reminds himself, “Don’t overgeneralize.”

The book consists of two parts. Ho’s encounters with madness described in Part I have enabled him to gain firsthand experiences of abnormality, a valuable resource for probing into the patient’s mind. In his case, he is both doctor and patient. Taking advantage of his specialty, he can do a personal case study of abnormality.

Case studies may be invaluable for advancing knowledge. However, they have to be interpreted in the context of academic discourse and controversies. Accordingly, in Part II, Ho writes on the nature of abnormality, the current status of mental health in America and China, issues related to diagnosis and psychopathology, and research on the creative potentials of madness for spiritual development.

The reader will soon note that the style of writing differs largely between the two parts: writing more from the heart as a good storyteller in the first, and articulating arguments backed by reasoning and evidence in the second.

To integrate the two parts of the book has been a most demanding task, which requires an in-depth knowledge of diverse disciplines, psychiatry, comparative religion, and East-West learning. Being thoroughly bicultural, Ho has an immense advantage in bringing Buddhist, Daoist, and Christian values and beliefs to advance his own ideas about spiritual fulfillment. In the end, he points to novel avenues for answering profound questions about the place of madness in human life.

The book’s major achievement is the integration of several central ideas, madness as creative energy, human dignity, self-transformation, and enlightenment into a coherent theme. Ho achieves this integration by weaving these ideas together to tell the story of his journey in quest of new directions to lead a dignified life—in short, spiritual fulfillment.

This book reminds me of Kay Jamison’s Touched with Fire, a best-selling account of her own bipolar mood disorder. David Ho, also a professor of clinical psychology, writes about his own experiences of mood disturbances. But then the similarity ends there. Ho’s mood disorder is unipolar. He says he has had “22 episodes of exuberance, none of depression”! This is truly an exceptionally psychiatric condition, replete with imbalances such as hyperactivity coexisting with mental or physical fatigue, tranquility punctuated by inner turmoil, and ecstasy intermingling with anguish. During episodes, Ho’s mind alternated between bursts of creativity and cognitive disturbances such as extreme forgetfulness or confusion.

←xvi | xvii→What I find most fascinating is Ho’s rich description of his extraordinary experiences. During fleeting moments of enlightenment, he glimpses into mystical magnanimity. He feels connected with all of humanity, at home in society, nature, and the cosmos. Gone are the prejudices, obsessions, and fixations of his “normal” life. Now, life is sweet, meaningful, and fulfilling.

What are some of these extraordinary experiences that exemplify the author’s mystical magnanimity? Visualizing himself being nailed on a cross and feeling intense pathos for the sufferings of humankind; experiencing androgyny, the yin and the yang, united in one body; a cosmic experience of visualizing himself lying in a coffin about to be interred, hearing nails being pounded as the cover of the coffin closes, followed by absolute darkness, silence, and nothingness—without any fear at all! These are just a few examples of many.

Ho is a brilliant storyteller. He entertains the reader with adventurous tales of his life as a spiritual journey. The one I find most fascinating is named A Living Buddha in a Schizophrenic City. The city in question is Macao because it is characterized by a schizophrenic split between its casino district and the rest. Once our storyteller ventured into a “casino nightclub.” Typically, the manual staff, many of whom are Buddhists, come from the poorest countries in Southeast Asia. They are treated like enslaved workers. With a state of mind filled with compassion, our storyteller told a few of these Buddhist workers that he was a Living Buddha, there to make an appearance for their consolation. They seemed to have no trouble believing what he told them. Our storyteller says, “Looking back at my adventure now, I can still feel the same compassion I felt then.”

Written in an accessible style, the book will appeal to readers from diverse backgrounds, especially those interested in the interface between psychology and spirituality, comparative religion, or bicultural development. It is particularly useful not only to mental health professionals but also to readers who have had experiences similar to those of the author. I have tremendously enjoyed the passion and the sparking prose with which the book is written.

Evelin Gerda Lindner

Founding President

Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies

←xvii | xviii→ ←xviii | xix→




Preface

This book results from the blessing of circumstance. In separation, being a psychologist steeped in a bilingual-bicultural background, experiencing glimpses of enlightenment, or having episodes of madness may not be that uncommon. But the confluence of all these is rare, if not unique.

The book comprises two main parts: Discoveries from a Self-Study of Madness and Transcending the Clash of Opposites. The first part consists of a detailed self-study of unipolar mood disorder, from which reflections and insights about madness are derived. It belongs to the long tradition of ideographic studies that attend to the uniqueness of each individual. The second part adheres to the nomothetic tradition of knowledge generation. Extensive coverage is given to various aspects of mental disorders from a scientific perspective. It provides the psychiatric as well as ethical, political, and sociocultural contexts for understanding mental disorders in general and my own case in particular.

The chapters in Part II are categorized into four thematic groups: Normality versus Abnormality, Individual versus Collective Madness, Eastern versus Western Culture, and Spirituality versus Spiritual Emptiness. The use of the word clash implies coexistence, for there would be no clash between opposites if they do not coexist. The application of dialectical thinking confronts the clash of opposites, leading to a resolution of contradictions.

←xix | xx→Dialectical psychology rejects the pseudodichotomy between the idiographic method of investigation of an individual over a prolonged period of time (as in Part I) and the nomothetic designed to discover general laws or principles (as in Part II).

It takes a fundamental stand in rejecting any contention that the psychopathology of an individual may be adequately understood without reference to the whole society of which the individual is a part. That is, the microcosm of an individual’s disorder reflects the macrocosm of societal disorder within which it is embedded. In particular, intrapsychic conflicts reflect contradictions found in external reality; and the condition of each individual reflects societal health and pathologies.

Why is the main title of my book named Fire Burning in My Head? Because it is an apt and accurate description of exactly what I have experienced during episodes of abnormal mood elevation, physically and psychologically. Physically, I can feel the “fire burning” when I put my hands on my head, as if there were an active volcano erupting inside my brain. Psychologically, I experience creative ideas raining down on me faster than I can absorb. These extraordinary experiences, described in detail in the book, come when I enter into a state of selfless-oblivion.

The subtitle sharpens the focus on the thesis that madness may enrich a person’s life. In this book, I reveal my own experiences of madness to the reader; explain how madness may be conceived as creative energy; and specify the conditions under which madness may enrich one’s life. Such a sharing of personal experiences would provide hope for countless others who have had their own encounters with madness or, to use a more technical but disparaging term, mental disorders.

I had no history of psychiatric disturbance prior to age 58. Then something happened that profoundly changed my life. For about two weeks, I listened to music in a way I had never listened before. Music came to life, evoking emotions that brought me to the lofty realm of spirituality. As I listened, I began to move—first my arms, then my whole body. I was on my way toward a rediscovery of my artistic and literary bent. People around me said I had become strange—stranger than my usual self. Then, this brief episode of exuberance ended as unpredictably as it came.

What happened? Even as a clinical psychologist, I was and I am still perplexed. I knew I showed hypomanic symptoms during the episode, such as abnormally elevated mood. But I didn’t think I suffered from a psychiatric disturbance. Why should I? I enjoyed the episode immensely; it caused me or others no harm.

←xx | xxi→Since then, more episodes have occurred, two of which approached the severity of mania. Symptoms like inflated self-esteem, racing thoughts, and excessive talkativeness appeared. I acted in ways that went beyond the bounds of social acceptability. People around me were bewildered and became very concerned about my mental condition. Yet, my mind retained its logicality and self- reflectiveness with undiminished prowess. At no point was there any threat of losing contact with reality or of acting in destructive or violent ways.

Altogether, I have had 22 episodes—all of exuberance, none of depression. That is to say, the episodes are all unipolar, not bipolar, mood disorders, defying the typical pattern seen among patients who have had hypomania or mania. This intriguing fact alone would occasion a rewriting of psychiatric textbooks. Further, the deeper I delve into my case, the more I become aware of how limited psychiatric approaches to understanding and coping with abnormality are. Fundamentally, psychiatry has failed to address the creative forces of madness.

These episodes of exuberance afford me precious opportunities to gain unhindered access to the unconscious, experience the extraordinary, and glimpse into the mystical. All the good things are present, in enhanced magnitudes. Gone are fixations, prejudices, and obsessions. Life is sweet, meaningful, and fulfilling. The enlargement of love dominates my being, leading me to act in selfless ways for the betterment of humankind. I became a colorful person, more sensitive, generous, and loving during episodes of madness. What’s more, I had glimpses of enlightenment, a mystical state of magnanimity.

I was forced to ask myself, “Am I enlightened or mad?” The response to this question is a self-study of my life. I dig deep into my past to better understand the present and future. I struggle to harness the creative forces of madness without incurring unnecessary social costs, which is quite a feat even if it is only partially successful. But what does madness have to do with either enlightenment or spirituality? Everything. This audacious assertion I will defend.

Writing this book affords me the opportunity to fulfill one of my lifelong aspirations: to be an agent of East-West understanding. I take advantage of my bilingual-bicultural background to tell select tales of intercultural encounters along the way of my spiritual journey. I draw upon the religious-philosophical traditions of the East, Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism, to enlarge our understanding of spirituality.

So this book is not meant to be just a report on my bouts of madness, extraordinary experiences, and glimpses of enlightenment. It is about my personal journey in quest of an integrated identity, sense of self-mastery, and new directions to lead a good life—in short, spiritual fulfillment. The journey is at once arduous ←xxi | xxii→and rewarding. Often I see no end in sight; I may come close to facing despair. Along the way, however, hope invites me to go on, and I also experience tranquility, interspersed with intense feelings of exhilaration and ecstasy.

Confronting episodes of madness one after another is a process of consecutive learning. Gradually I learn to view these episodes as high points in my journey of spiritual discoveries, where the dynamics of spirituality and spiritual emptiness play out. The benefits, both professional and personal, I have derived from my encounters with madness are immense. This realization propels me to share my spiritual discoveries with fellow travelers in search of a good life.

Spirituality then provides the unifying theme and context to interpret all my experiences, normal and abnormal, in China and the United States. What have I learned? Madness has the potential to energize spiritual journeys. Spirituality derives creative energy from madness to reach new heights; madness receives the healing, calming effects of spirituality to become benign. Wedded to ecumenicity, spirituality dissolves ethnic or cultural boundaries, fosters universal love, and promotes world citizenship.

In closing, I wish to express my gratitude to Scientific American and to the article’s author Simon Makin for approaching me to serve as an informant. This book includes portions of the article “The Undiscovered Illness: The Opposite of Depression” in the March 2019 issue of Scientific American.

Writing this book is the closest experience to conception, and getting it published is the closest to giving birth to a baby I will ever have. This new life is my karma. Fortunately, I have help from a competent and encouraging “obstetrician”: Evelin Gerda Lindner, a holder of doctorates in psychology and medicine, who has kindly consented to write a foreword for this book. To her I owe the trust that the fruit of my labor is a book worthy of my readers—a baby that will live its life to the fullest.

David Y. F. Ho

←0 | 1→

Part I

Discoveries from a Self-Study of Madness

Helping others is the royal road to help oneself.

How would my experience enrich your Life? This question entails generalization from my case to yours. Some readers may react with the question, “I have not been mad. So how relevant is your experience to my life?” My counterquestion is: “How can you be sure?” As I have made clear in various chapters in Part II, the demarcation between madness and normality is far from being clear cut (see Thematic Group 1 in particular).

Others may ask, “You have unipolar disorder, which is unusual. I have a different mental disorder. To what extent is your case applicable to mine?” My answer is that it has taken me decades to learn and benefit from encounters with my disorder. Each person has to go through a process of learning to cope with whatever disorder he might have. The reflections and discoveries from my self-study may energize your learning process.

And it is important to recognize that madness does not necessarily benefit your life; in fact, it is more likely that madness has damaged your life. It is unsound to overgeneralize from a case study of a single individual. This is why I have used the words may enrich your life in the subtitle of this book. In Chapter 17, I have spelled that several preconditions for enrichment have to be ←1 | 2→met; moreover, sustained effort is required to transform madness in the service of life enrichment.

Regardless of your own condition, you are free to extract whatever you find useful in this book to enrich your life, in addition to gaining knowledge about madness in diverse sociopolitical, religious, and cultural backgrounds.

A major thesis of this book is that the best way to help oneself is to help others. In various chapters, illustrations are provided to clarify and expand on its implications. Yet, there are times I feel that I can’t even help myself, let alone others. Experience has taught me, however, that I may elevate my mental health most effectively through a synergistic engagement with others. This, above all, is what I wish to share with my readers.

←2 | 3→

1 Tales from My Two Worlds

Faith begins where, and only where, reason ends.

The will to master marginality leads only to world citizenship.

My aim in life is to be shamelessbut not to lose the sense of shame.

This chapter is a self-study of my life. It serves as the background case history found in standard psychological “clinical reports.” But there is more. It may be viewed as oral history: My life overlaps with a period of turmoil in Chinese history. In many ways, my psychological development mirrors that turmoil. It is no less a case study of intercultural fertilization, which my bicultural-bilingual background facilitates.

I belong to two worlds, one Eastern and the other Western. It is quite natural, therefore, that much of the narrative takes the form of an imaginary interview, in actuality an internal dialogue between my two selves, David and YF (initials for Yau Fai, my given name), different but complementary.

The interview is dialogic action at work. David is my Western-educated self, analytic, informed, and thoughtful. He sees things from different perspectives, Eastern and Western. He puts things in context and spells out their implications. He also functions as a detached observer, summarizing periodically and giving ←3 | 4→feedback to YF. He tempers YF’s extremist proclivities and keeps him on track. Occasionally, he functions as a therapist for YF. He acts as a catalyst, challenging YF to go deeper or to clarify issues, thus pushing the interview forward.

YF is my Chinese self, born and raised in Hong Kong. He derives knowledge from firsthand experiences, including those of “madness.” His mind is complexity itself, critical, incisive, and self-reflective. Characteristically direct, he minces no words. He is intense in both action and thought, single-minded in the pursuit of his goals. He has a low threshold for enthusiasm and is almost incapable of doing things halfway.

Psychohistory: Personal Experiences Reflect Historical Social Reality

I tend to be an iconoclast. My frankness may cause embarrassment. I dare to speak the unspeakable—in public. It is a truism that things unsaid may be more meaningful than things verbalized, and things stated openly in public may not be as revealing as things whispered in private. Yet things unstated in public often require frank and open discussion. So the dialogue between YF and David begins.

YF I don’t want to pontificate about the shortcomings of Western psychology and how they may be remedied. What may interest the reader is how my personal transformation mirrors the turmoil of modern Chinese history, particularly with regard to the pains and rewards of intercultural fertilization.

David You may be a daunting person to interview. The Yau Fai I know is an atypical psychologist and an eccentric, in normality as in madness. You have an unusual social and educational background. You get into all sorts of intellectual pursuits, many of which do not fall within academic psychology proper. You are steeped in revamping psychology, drawing from, as you say, the treasure trove of Chinese culture; yet you don’t behave like a typical Chinese. You conduct research on filial piety, toward which I can detect you harbor great antipathy. You study face, like a person saving his own or giving face to another, yet you yourself pay little attention to face in social interactions. Paradox incarnate?

YF Chinese society has undergone radical, often convulsive, changes during the last hundred years and more. This compels me to engage in soul searching, in response to relentless onslaught from the West—military, political, cultural.

David Intense debate has focused on the road that China should take to rid itself of foreign domination externally and feudalistic backwardness internally; reassert itself as a strong, modernized nation; and assimilate Western culture, while preserving China’s cultural identity. This is no armchair debate, for ←4 | 5→China was embroiled in a life-or-death struggle for national survival; wars were fought and revolutions broke out that were to determine its destiny.

YF Personal experiences reflect social reality: Struggles within my psyche mirror external conflicts in society. I have felt the pain of domination and humiliation by foreign powers. I have wrestled with the question of who I am: Chinese or American. This is a question of paramount importance. Ultimately, it concerns my identity and being. An integrated identity, enriched by bicultural-bilingual competence, is a happy ending; a fragmented identity, with divergent aspects of itself in uneasy coexistence, is not.

Biographical notes

David Y. F. Ho (Author)

David Y. F. Ho has held professorial appointments in psychology and cultural studies in Asia and North America. He has authored numerous contributions in psychology, psychiatry, sociology, and education; and was the first Asian to have served as President of the International Council of Psychologists.

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