chapter  2
14 Pages

THE PROBLEM

Being of two minds is a state familiar to just about everyone who has had to make a choice between two equally appealing selections. The red or the blue, the pie or the cake, the one car or the other, elicit in us all of those conditions of an equal psychological balance or suspension that may even on occasion bring about pain and ultimately regret, as we come down on one side or the other. That experience of ambivalence or indecision begins with a choice that ordinarily has a similar or even identical endpoint in mind: the dessert should taste good, the car must drive well, and the color should be pleasing. This simple start, which contains the onset of ambivalence, takes a further significant step when the goals or aims resulting from the choices begin to separate and thus betray a significant difference between them. The cake versus the Jell-O has a different configuration of disparity, inasmuch as in deciding between cake and pie one cares not for calories whereas now one aims for some sort of dietary control. So, too, does the dilemma between the sedan and the convertible highlight a distinction between goals, ones that perhaps reflect a different lifestyle and an opposing overall presentation of one's image. Such differences begin to turn what is an ordinary run-of-the-mill ambivalence into more of a struggle between forces in opposition. Of course our supposedly simple ambivalence is made more complex because of whatever unconscious factors lay claim to one decision or another; if one adds together those unconscious

determinants, which may traverse a wide range of wishes and fantasies, with the clear distinction between aims and goals, then we begin to approach a separation that seems to reflect two opposing personalities. So this further extension and elaboration of being of two minds results in more of a vertical separation, a division into side-by-side ways of thinking, or perhaps even one of personalities with differing aims, goals, and values.