Artwork by bentolman
RETARDATION, also known as Re-evaluation, is one of seven possible goals in life, chosen by a soul before taking birth. Not to be confused with being “abnormal”, Retardation simply means to slow down or rein in. A goal of Retardation drives the personality to retreat from the wider world and focus inwards, to be alone with one’s thoughts and feelings.
A change of focus
To retard simply means to block, decelerate, impede or hold back. Hence, having the goal of Retardation means blocking the hectic pace and intensity of life experiences in some way for the duration of the lifetime.
The goal of Retardation has the opposite effect from that of Growth. The aim is not to expand beyond one’s usual limits or to accelerate to the next level, but to keep oneself reined in, to focus within oneself, introspecting or contemplating, living a relatively isolated, uncomplicated, low-intensity life. So, whereas the focus of Growth is to learn and expand through new experiences, Retardation is used to minimise worldly interactions and to fully focus inward.
Why would a soul ever choose to live a life with this goal? There are various possible reasons.
One might have developed a tendency over numerous lives to become swept up in trivial worldly matters, for example. So being born with a lack of motivation (or even a lack of ability) to engage with the world serves as a way to take a step back and re-tune into oneself.
Another reason would be to spend life in a highly introspective state, less distracted by physical activities — this certainly seems to have enabled Stephen Hawking to focus on his theoretical developments.
Characteristics of Retardation
The key characteristic of this goal is the personality’s desire to be silent, withdrawn, and contemplative, preferably in nature rather than in modern society. And, conversely, the person will likely feel stressed and uncomfortable in modern society or any circumstances that are noisy, fast-paced, and highly interactive.
Those with this goal may have some sort of congenital disability to hold themselves back from ‘normal’ life experiences or to keep themselves reined in with a low level of outside exposure. Autism is one example — a way to engage less and focus inward.
However, many if not most with this goal have no disability at all, just a desire to be silent and contemplative. Think, for example, of how many monasteries are filled with monks and nuns living this path.
Also note that not everyone with disabilities has a goal of Retardation. Physical, mental or emotional disabilities can serve any life goal, or none. My wife, for example, has a physical disability (cerebral palsy) and her goal is Acceptance.
But … that’s offensive!
A lot of people just see the word Retardation and have an immediate reaction (as you’ll see in some of the comments below).
Ironically, psychiatrists looking at real developmental impairments have long faced the same problem. They name a certain condition, the word is picked up by the general public and used as a term of abuse, and then the poor old psychiatrists are blamed for using a term that is offensive. Take the “intellectually impaired”: previous terms for the condition had included cretin, moron, idiot and imbecile — all of which were perfectly innocent and humane at first, before they were co-opted as terms of abuse. The word cretin, for example, derives from an old French word for Christian. This was originally used with perfectly good intent, to emphasise that people with significant intellectual or developmental disabilities were not only real people deserving dignity but also good Christians, incapable of sinning.
But people are in the habit of taking whatever psychiatric or psychological term is currently used to describe a psychological problem and then throw it at anyone who doesn’t agree with them: “You stupid cretin / moron / idiot / imbecile / retard!”
As the abusive meaning becomes more well known than the medical meaning, those who care for people with impairment find it offensive and call for a new, politically correct label. (According to Wikipedia, this constant cycle of changing words is known as the euphemism treadmill.)
Psychiatry constructed the term mental retardation in the 20th century to replace the previous terms like cretinism, all of which had become offensive. By the end of the century, however, “retard” had become a term of abuse and therefore “retardation” is deemed offensive.
So… because of its unfortunate association with those pejorative terms, many prefer to use the word “Re-evaluation” as the label for this life goal. Re-evaluation means taking a pause to review oneself and one’s approach to life. I have no problem with that, except that the word itself doesn’t quite sound like the opposite of Growth/expansion/acceleration. Perhaps a better term for it would be Retreat – implying that it’s about pulling away from the world and into oneself, rather than a stretching out of oneself into the world (= Growth).[NOTE: The book Archetypes of the Soul, which presents exactly the same channelled teachings in German but from – apparently – a different source, uses the words Acceleration and Deceleration instead of Growth and Retardation.]
Retardation: positive and negative
In the negative pole of Retardation, one retreats completely into a fearful state of withdrawal from the outer world, perhaps seeking oblivion. An example is the condition psychiatrists refer to as “solipsism syndrome” — a state of utter loneliness, detachment and indifference to the outside world, as if nothing existed apart from one’s own mind. If this happens, a way out is to temporarily swing to the opposite goal of Growth and pursue its positive pole of comprehension — to gain some first-hand experience and insight that will help to re-focus on the higher purpose behind one’s desire for silence and solitude.
In the positive pole of Retardation, one enjoys retreating to a simpler way of being that is deliberately slow-paced, introspective, and contemplative, such as a monastic or pastoral lifestyle. This provides ample time and space for inward reflection.
* “Atavism” is a term used in the social sciences to describe a return to the past — reverting to a more “primitive” lifestyle such as our ancestors lived, rather than keeping up with the modern world.
Retardation: some famous examples
• Relaxation •