As with many other topics, self-knowledge can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. In the context of this book, however, self-knowledge refers mainly to the sort of self-awareness that stems from mind-body work. For those who wish more specifics on what mind-body work is all about, click on the relevant links in the bibliographical section of this website. For the rest, it should suffice here just to remind you that most if not all mind-body modalities/approaches are still based on the discovery made by Wilhelm Reich that there is scientific connection between chronic muscle tension and the repression of emotion. By "scientific" here we mean that we can prove something's existence through reliably repeating the same cause-and-effect combinations or sequences of behavior under sufficiently variable conditions.
Success in modern psychology is mainly based on the unearthing of previously unconscious material that, because unconscious, had remained inaccessible to a person's powers of reason and deduction and thus one's ability to integrate properly and beneficially into the rest of one's life and behavior. The sorts of mind-body techniques that have grown out of the work of Reich and his many followers and adapters, through enhancing the ability of individuals to access this usually hidden, unconscious information about themselves, have made it possible for people to experience, through various combinations of recalled memory and fresh insight, entirely new perspectives on themselves, their loved ones, and the patterns of their own behavior, thus leading to dramatic changes in how they went about their lives.
Although there are many different mind-body approaches – at last count, there were over 60 of them – the one that I've used is called Bioenergetics (https://www.amazon.com/Bioenergetics-Revolutionary-Therapy-Language-Problems/dp/0140194711). So throughout the book I will often be referring to this particular modality. In my first book on this general subject, Towards the Biology of Culture, I take a broad if somewhat less than clinical look at this mind-body therapy, as well as appropriate the term "bioenergetic" in order to demonstrate how it applies to many other aspects of our social and cultural life than those that one would in a formal sense call purely psychological or "therapeutic.
In this book as well, I will be using the term "bioenergetic" in the two ways, the first – capital B – when making a more strictly therapeutic reference, and then using it with a small b when referencing broader social and/or cultural applications and contexts.
Self-knowledge is just as important an ingredient to successful social change as are book knowledge and spirituality. Without accurate self-knowledge, particularly of the sort aforementioned, it is all too easy for undetected and/or misunderstood emotions and memories to color and distort even the most dramatic advances in "book learning" (methods, technologies, policies, etc.), as well as for them to infest and/or double for supposed "spiritual" moments and insights that can turn out to be more directed by our own hidden emotional or social agendas than by any sort of guidance from a "higher power."