Monday, June 28, 2004

The Genesis of an Obsession: Weaving Memoir from Theory and Experience

June 28, 2004


Hey, buddy. What's up, kiddo?

I had a session with The Mad Monk on Wednesday last -- June 23, 2004. I unburdened myself, or shall we say, I outed myself. I went into the sordid details about my obsession with you. I told Dr. Bash that I am absolutely besotted with you.

Underlying my discussion with The Mad Monk about my obsession with you were a collection of thoughts and feelings that went unsaid. Dr. Bash is not exactly the kind of therapist you can tell certain things to. But you, my friend, are! You, Brian, are the perfect therapist, or psychoanalyst, for me. My reaction to you is a broad-based transference relationship, as this letter will make clear. I can see my whole life history in my relationship -- or imagined relationship -- with you.

Here's an elaboration of what I told The Mad Monk last Wednesday.

"I think about Brian all the time. I can't get him out of my mind. I've known him for 16 years now. At least that's how long he's worked as a librarian at Cleveland Park.

I remember the very first time I saw Brian. It was the first week of March 1988. I can remember that because I had just gotten fired from my job at Hogan & Hartson. And I remember going to the library one afternoon and seeing a young guy at the information desk. I thought at the time: "He doesn't look like any librarian I've ever seen before. He gives off a lot of masculine energy."

Since I lost my job in '91 I've been going to the library almost every day. I've been seeing Brian almost every day now for more than twelve years. I had the feeling the whole time he was communicating directly with somebody associated with my old law firm, Akin Gump. Probably Malcolm and Earl -- or other people. I could tell by words and phrases that Brian and the others would use from day to day, as well as their demeanor, that Brian and the other library staff were following all the details of my private life as they were unfolding. That's how I learned about the Pope and the Prime Minister of Israel. They went wild in the library when that happened -- as you can imagine. That was in about 1999, when the Pope visited Israel.

Anyway, since April 2003 I was writing letters to Brian. I guess that's when my obsession with him started. I really had the feeling that someday, somehow, we'd become friends. I felt a growing closeness to him. In my imagination he seemed to become more and more at ease with me. I had the feeling, the distinct feeling, he was reading my letters and enjoying them. I think he liked the attention. I think he found the letters entertaining.

The obsession with Brian coincided with my therapy with my old therapist (Meghana Tembe) at GW. The therapist and I had no relationship at all. I used to drag myself to GW every week. There was no sense of any connection, and I experienced my whole time there (since February 2003) as a burden. I'd look forward to my letter writing to Brian. It was as if Brian were my imaginary friend and my therapist -- my psychoanalyst. I felt a deep resonance with him, as I still do in large part.

At the same time I feel there was a kind of seduction or rape that occurred. I feel raped by Brian. All the secret communications going on between Brian and my old law firm. I felt constantly violated. I guess I had feelings of rage about that. Perhaps my growing idealization of Brian helped me to cope with the painful feeling of rape or violation. As my idealization of Brian grew, my feelings of violation diminished. I don't know how to describe it; I felt violated and it was as if I had been placed in a passive position beyond my control, and I felt "if only there were some way to exert some kind of control," you know? Some way to turn a feeling of passively experienced humiliation into some kind of mastery of the situation. It was as if by writing letters to Brian -- detailed, intimate letters -- I was taking what was being done to me and turning it around into something over which I felt I was exerting some kind of control.

It was as if I were offering myself up to Brian sexually, saying 'here I am, do me.' It's like I just lay there, legs spread, offering up all kinds of personal details in my letters. It's as if I were thinking, 'If he's going to do this -- constantly violate my privacy, I may as well just lay back and enjoy it.' But now it was I who was offering myself up; it was as if I took some measure of control away from Brian. Don't tell me women don't love the experience of rape. Believe me it's intensely enjoyable.

Now I feel as if Brian just tossed me aside. He used me, and now I'm just useless to him. Now the obsession has become extremely intense and painful."

So that's the story. In any event, Dr. Bash gave me an assignment. She said: "I want you to think about why you are obsessed with Brian. Next week I want you to tell me what insights you have about your obsession with Brian, why you are obsessed with him." I said: "Do you want that in writing?" She said: "You may put it in writing if you wish."

So that's what this letter will be about, buddy. This letter will respond to Dr. Bash's request that I explain why I believe I am obsessed with you.

I've planned this discussion as a fictional character study. Rather than make any pretense to psychological insight about my personality or historical accuracy about my experiences, I thought I'd write something that aims at an internally consistent sketch of the psychological evolution of a person who in adulthood creates and becomes obsessed with an imaginary friend. I try to explain what capacities, experiences, adaptations, and disturbances would support an adult individual's creation in fantasy of an imaginary friend as well as the individual's act of actually writing letters (letters that by all the evidence remain unread) to that fantasized friend. The following writing is, I believe, fully cognizable as a plausible character sketch, even if it falls short of explaining fully my own personality and behaviors.

Subject is a 50-year-old male. He has been unemployed and profoundly isolated for years. Other than consultations with mental health professionals, subject has no social contacts of any kind with family, acquaintances, or friends. Subject trained as a lawyer, and has two law degrees.

Years earlier, while subject was employed, he had several acquaintances whom he would have liked to befriend. Each of the acquaintances was acutely ambitious, inner-directed, intelligent, idealistic, and independent in thought and action.

Subject is highly intelligent, verbally fluent, and creative. He devoted about ten years of his unemployment writing a lengthy autobiographical study that was unusual in structure. The content of the writing features subject's identification with historical and literary figures who were compulsive letter writers; who developed exclusive, idealized friendships; whose privacy rights were violated; and who struggled with the experience of loss, exile or banishment.

Subject visits his neighborhood library daily. Subject has a paranoid fantasy that the library manager is in daily communication with his former employer, a local law firm. Subject believes that the employer informs the library manager of subject's personal goings on, and that the manager reports back to the employer on subject's activities at the library. For some years subject had a vague notion that the manager might one day become his friend.

Subject imagines that the manager likes him and that the manager would welcome a social overture from him. Subject imagines that he receives subtle cues from the manager that the manager feels some personal connection with subject.

The manager appears to be a highly intelligent, underachiever who has little in common with any of his colleagues at the library. The manager is in his mid-forties, married, but childless. Subject imagines that the library manager is an individual who, from early life, had strong ambitions for success, fame, and independence, but that his early dreams and promise were not realized. The manager has worked his entire adult life in libraries, and subject imagines that the manager has severely repressed feelings of dissatisfaction with his life. The librarian has three siblings, all female. He majored in history in college, and subject imagines that perhaps the librarian had had a desire to attend law school.

At some point, many years into subject's unemployment, subject begins to write daily letters to the manager and save them on the public computer's hard-drive. Subject discusses in these letter his thoughts and feelings; the tone of the letters is friendly, informal and at times humorous. Subject imagines that the manager reads the letters and finds them interesting and entertaining. Subject further imagines that the manager transmits copies of the letters to the subject's former employer who, subject imagines, retains a personal interest in him. At the point subject begins his letter writing activity, his feelings for the manger grow in intensity. Subject becomes obsessed with the manager, who dominates subject's thoughts. Subject begins to experience a feeling "of mounting self-confidence to the point of excitement and feeling as though" he and the library manager will become friends, possibly close friends. See Fernando, J. "The Exceptions: Structural and Dynamic Aspects." The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, vol. 52 at 19 (1997) (discussing a patient's feelings associated with her repetition compulsion).

After a year of this letter writing activity, the manager summons the police to request that subject be ejected from the library and that he be banned from the library for a period of six months. The manager tells the police that he had chanced upon a letter that subject had written and saved to the computer hard-drive. In the manager's opinion the letter is threatening in tone and evidences a disturbed mental state. The police do not concur with the manager's assessment of the letter, but agree to enforce the manager's request that subject be banned from visiting the library. Subject willingly honors the police action, but continues to write letters to the manager that he transmits to subject's own e-mail account. Subject imagines that unidentified persons continue to read the letters and transmit the letters to the library manager.

Subject continues to imagine that he and the library manager will someday become friends, though he understands realistically that this will probably not happen. Subject remains suspicious of the circumstances underlying the manager's action in having subject banned from the library. Subject responds emotionally to the ban with feelings of "anxiety, anger, confusion, and humiliation." See Fernando, J. "The Exceptions: Structural and Dynamic Aspects." The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, vol. 52 at 19 (1997) (discussing a patient's feelings associated with her repetition compulsion). Subject is convinced that the manager lied to the police when he told them that he, the manager, had read only one of subject's letters. Subject imagines that he was the victim of a personalized vendetta by the library manager, whose actions (so subject believes) were prompted by irrational psychological motives that centered on the manager's own repressed feelings about subject.

The following material traces the evolution of subject's personality from infancy, with particular reference to those capacities, experiences, adaptations, and disturbances in subject's background and psychological development that supported his action in adulthood of creating a fantasized friendship with another adult male, as well as subject's action in writing letters to that imaginary friend.

It appears that since infancy, subject showed an innate capacity for dissociation. It is likely that subject had the ability to withdraw his emotional investment in his real mother, and redirect that emotional investment in fantasy to an idealized image of an imagined mother. It is also likely that the dissociation occurred independently of need gratifications. Subject's innate capacity for dissociation may have been a precursor for creative activities, such as letter writing, in later life.

Philip Weissman believed that the future artist, as an infant, had the ability to hallucinate the mother's breast independently of oral needs. According to him the unusual capacities of the artist "may be retraced to the infancy and childhood of the artist wherein we may find that he is driven by the nature of his artistic endowment to preserve (or immortalize) his hallucinated response to the mother's breast independent of his need gratifications."

One major concept of Weissman is the "dissociative function of the ego." With the aid of this dissociative function, the creative person "may partially decathect the external object (mother's breast) and hypercathect his imaginative perception of it. He may then further elaborate and synthesize these self-created perceptions as anlagen or precursors of creative activity which must then await full maturation and development of his ego and his talent for true creative expression." In simple words, according to Weissman, the child who will become a creative person has the ability to diverge the energy originally invested in primitive personal objects and to invest it again in creative work. Or in still different words, the creative person is able to dissociate his early personal life from what will be the creative work, although this work derived from the same early personal life. Weissman, P. "Psychological Concomitants of Ego Functioning in Creativity." International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 49: 464-469 (1968) (as discussed and quoted by S. Arieti).

An innate capacity for dissociation can serve as a mediating factor in the development of a massive splitting defense in cases where the individual's early environment is characterized by abuse and deprivation. See Phillips, R.A., Introduction to "When Rabbit Howls: The Troops for Truddi Chase." (New York: Jove Books, 1990) (Phillips has been a clinical psychologist practicing in Chevy Chase, MD); and Shengold, L. "Soul Murder: The Effects of Childhood Abuse and Deprivation." (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989).

Paradoxically, the emergence of a massive splitting defense (in the face of an abusive environment) that is mediated by an innate capacity for dissociation can be seen as a compromise with a more grave outcome, namely overt psychosis. In dissociative identity disorder (formerly called multiple personality disorder) dissociation is spoken of as a "capacity" that permits the development of discrete, fully functional identities in a single person in the face of abuse or deprivation; though a single cohesive personality, either normal or psychotic, does not develop. "[N]ot every child who suffers abuse or a major loss or trauma has the [dissociative] capacity to develop multiple personalities. Those who do have the capacity also have normal ways of coping, and most of these vulnerable children are sufficiently protected and soothed by adults, so dissociative identity disorder does not develop." THE MERCK MANUAL OF MEDICAL INFORMATION. SECOND HOME EDITION at 638 (Whitehouse Station, NJ: Merck Research Laboratories, 2003).


When subject was born, his parents (and six-year older sister) lived at his grandmother's house, while the parents looked for a house to buy. They had been living in an apartment but had moved out of the apartment just before subject was born. Subject was raised for the first six months by two mothers: his maternal grandmother and his mother. Subject was bottle-fed, so that mother and grandmother were able to share the feeding and caring duties. Subject might have bonded with both mother and grandmother, so that when his parents moved, when subject was six months old, he may have experienced the loss of his grandmother as traumatic or at least disruptive.

Subject's activity of writing letters to an idealized imaginary friend may be a derivative of his early experience of deficiencies in maternal caretaking or loss of a maternal attachment object. Subject's idealization or obsessive preoccupation with the library manager may be a defense against feelings of rage--with maternal deficiencies or maternal loss both precursors of that rage. In sum, subject's obsession with the library manager may reflect subject's "quest for an idealized figure as restitution" for early maternal deficiencies and loss. See Goldsmith, G. "Freud's Aesthetic Response to Michelangelo's Moses." The Annual of Psychoanalysis, vol. 20 at 267 (1992).

Freud had two mothers: his biological mother and a nanny on whom he was very dependent. Goldsmith argues that the experience was important for Freud's early development: that Freud experienced an infantile depression as a result of the loss of his nanny and that his repressed rage was expressed through its opposite--namely, idealization. Goldsmith at 259-61.

Goldsmith argues that the reactivation of archaic derivatives of maternal loss in Freud, where disruptions in rapprochement could have led to an instability of the ego states of love, caused Freud's "inordinate demand for exclusive possession of the loved one" during his engagement to his future wife. Goldsmith at 266 (quoting Ernest Jones).

Perhaps similar dynamics were at play in Freud's intense and exclusive adult friendship with Wilhelm Fliess and his similarly intense and exclusive adolescent friendship with Edward Silberstein. In adulthood Freud carried on a largely epistolary relationship with an individual named Wilhelm Fliess, his best and perhaps only friend. Freud's friendship with Fliess was passionate but, as a largely epistolary relationship, it was restrained and distant; in the letters it is as though Freud were in a dialogue with himself. The intensity with which Freud entered into his largely epistolary relationship with Fliess must have been a reflection of his disappointment with reality and his need to seek an idealized friend who existed only as a projection of his own needs. For Freud the ideal friend had to be an extension of himself. Grosskurth, P. The Secret Ring: Freud's Inner Circle and the Politics of Psychoanalysis.


Subject's mother, though overprotective, was largely uninvolved and uninterested in subject's play or other activities. Mother interacted with subject, but in her own way and on her own terms; she was unwilling or incapable of immersing herself in or participating in her child's own world.

It is telling that in the first grade, subject's teacher summoned the mother to school to admonish her to help subject with his homework and to read to him. Subject's mother had never read to her son. Subject's mother used to say unashamedly: "I hate books!" It is interesting that as an adult, subject's interests and outlook do not match those of his mother; in terms of interests and outlook it is as if subject developed independently from his mother, though he was emotionally dependent on her.

Subject's activity in adulthood of visiting the library and sharing physical space with the uninvolved library manager, while at the same time covertly wooing the manager with undelivered letters, may be a derivative of his early interaction with an uninterested and uninvolved mother who ignored her toddler son's secret entreaties for attention.

The rapprochement subphase (usually between fifteen months and eighteen months) is ushered in by the toddler's dawning realization that the mother is actually a separate person, one who will not always be available to help him in dealing with his newly enlarged world. Mother must now be approached on a new, higher level of interaction, characterized especially by sharing new discoveries in the "outside" world and by language. The early months of the rapprochement subphase are typified by "wooing" behavior of the child toward his mother, in which he tries to obtain her participation in his world within the context of some recognition of his separateness. Greenberg, J.R. and Mitchell, S.A. Object Relations in Psychoanalytic Theory. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1983).


Subject suffered an injury to the oral cavity when he was two-and-a-half years old. While mother was cleaning some kitchen curtains, subject put a curtain-rod in his mouth; he fell, and the curtain rod punctured the soft-palette. The wound bled profusely and had to be cauterized. Subject's father blamed the accident on mother's overindulgence of subject and her "spoiling" of him.

As an adult, subject exhibits the trait of rebellion. Results of psychological testing state that subject "has a tendency to challenge or denounce social sanctions to the point where he may lose sight of his own best interests."

Subject's obsessive preoccupation with the library manager reflects his need to recapture in adulthood the early idealized images of his parents, which he never relinquished.

Fernando describes details from the history of an analytic patient who had severely repressed demands for recompense for an injury she suffered in childhood and who for this reason was attracted to (more accurately, obsessed by) persons who displayed the character type of the "exceptions." The patient herself showed some signs of being an "exception." Fernando, J. "The Exceptions: Structural and Dynamic Aspects." The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, vol. 52: 17-28 (1997).

The patient, a young adult, had suffered a broken leg in early childhood. According to Fernando, the injury and its aftermath (parental blaming behavior) caused a disturbance in her superego maturation, and led to the character type that Freud termed the "exceptions." In the "exceptions," the early idealized parental images are never metabolized as in the normal person, and the individual's superego remains warped. Such individuals attempt to recapture in their interpersonal relations in adulthood representations of their early idealized parental images. Fernando's patient was obsessed with two persons, her only friends. The patient was not simply lonely; she wanted to affiliate closely with these two persons because they matched her internalized and idealized images of her parents.

The patient's development foundered on her inability to accomplish one of the major tasks of late adolescence: the integration of previously unresolved traumas into the character structure, or what Peter Blos calls the "characterological stabilization of residual trauma."

The relative lack of superego maturation and integration in the exceptions affects the maturation of the ego ideal. It interferes with the deconcretization of the ego ideal and its integration into the personality as a substructure within the superego system, a process that normally takes place definitively in late adolescence. This interference was evident in Fernando's patient who found it impossible to relinquish her attachment to the idealized images of her parents and instead began a prolonged attempt, beginning in late adolescence, to recapture her ideals in concrete form in her relationship with her two friends.

The accident and hospitalization of this patient were traumatic in the narrow sense of the term. During and immediately following the accident there was a breaching of the stimulus barrier. Ego functions (motility, perception, judgment, time sense) were temporarily overwhelmed (the period of numbness). The subsequent attempts at mastery by turning passive into active and through sexualization led to a lifelong fate neurosis: Throughout her life in small ways and large the patient repeated the sequence of mounting self-confidence that preceded the accident to the point of excitement and feeling as though she were "flying," followed by a period of "numbness," and finally by a repetition of the feelings of anxiety, anger, confusion, and humiliation associated with the hospitalization. She repeated this sequence over and over in the analysis.

The ego attitude of justified rebellion or entitlement, which is characteristic of the "exceptions," develops because of early mistreatment, injury, or maternal deficiencies; such disturbed experiences lead to a distortion in ego-superego interaction and interfere with normal superego maturation.


Subject grew up in an environment dominated by female maternal figures, which promoted misogynist attitudes in adulthood. (Compare the early environment and personality of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche). Subject unconsciously desired to affiliate with his father as a defense against female (maternal) engulfment. Subject's actual affiliation with father, though, was disapproved by subject's mother who wanted to dominate her son's affections.

Father was in many ways a weak man who submitted to female domination. (Note the parallel with the library manager who works in a professional environment traditionally dominated by females and that employs a fair quota of male homosexuals). Father felt dominated by his wife, his wife's overbearing sister, and mother-in-law. A former psychiatrist stated to subject on one occasion: "I have no respect for your father at all: that he should have put up with that family situation for all those years." Father likely seduced his son into an alliance against "bitches" to justify his personal failure as a man. Lowen, A. Narcissism: Denial of the True Self at 116 (New York: Collier Books, 1985) (the author refers to this type of "seduction" as homosexual in nature).

Like the library manager, subject's father was an underachiever. Father quit a selective academic high school restricted to college-bound students in the tenth grade, despite a superior IQ that was measured at 125 in the U.S. Army (95th percentile). Father worked in menial factory jobs his entire adult life. Also, in some way vaguely similar to the library manager, subject's father carved out some measure of autonomy and a leadership role by being active in his union; he served for many years as shop chairman in his place of employment and was a delegate to the union's national convention, held in New York City, when subject was ten years old.

At the time subject's obsession with the library manager began, subject's interpersonal contacts were limited to three females, all of whom he disliked: a female psychiatrist, a female psychotherapist, and a female case manager.

Subject exhibits the personality trend of rebellion, a fact that is pertinent to the following theoretical discussion which links rebellion to the intensity of the early father idealization. Psychological testing of subject disclosed that he "has a tendency to challenge and denounce social sanctions to the point where he may lose sight of his own best interests."

The role of the early father, writes psychoanalyst Peter Blos, was that of a rescuer or savior at the time when the small [male] child normally makes his determined effort to gain independence from the first and exclusive caretaking person, usually the mother. At this juncture the father attachment offers an indispensable and irreplaceable help to the infant's effort to resist the regressive pull to total maternal dependency, thus enabling the child to give free rein to the innate strivings of physiological and psychological progression, i.e., maturation. We find the roots of the boy's father complex at this point in the boy's development. The reverberations of this complex are never totally extinguished in the life of any man: they remain active and alive from "the cradle to the grave." We can hardly overrate their contribution to the process of growing up, of being a grownup, and of growing old. The resolution of the boy's paternal attachment is normally left incomplete at the end of childhood because developmental pressures of a somatic, cognitive, and social nature outweigh the completion of this task of infancy. Normally, the irresistible beckoning of the latency period wins out. In adolescence, the interrupted processes of psychological growth must be taken up again because they cannot tolerate further delay when the irrevocable termination of psychological childhood is in sight.

The boy's extinguished yearning for the comforting comradeship with father turns into a frightening prospect at adolescence, when the regressive pull to the state of dependency on the paternal savior grows in intensity, especially in case he becomes resurrected as the little boy's idealized hero. This psychic constellation is experienced by the adolescent as an intolerable conflict. I have frequently made the observation that the boy's adolescent revolt against his father asserts itself with more boundless violence, the more profound the son's early [actual or wished- for] father attachment had been and the more unaltered this [actual or wished-for] attachment (usually successfully repressed) had remained in the boy's emotional life. Regardless of how successfully--or shall we say, how normally--the decline of the early father attachment proceeded over time, the tendency to idealization represents a lifelong problem for every man. Blos, P. "Freud and the Father Complex." The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, vol. 42 at 426-7 (1987).


Subject's obsession with the library manager may reflect a rescue fantasy characterized by subject's hope to be rescued from his painful state of loneliness, as well as his anxieties surrounding maternal engulfment, by regaining the idealized omnipotent parent. See Gillman, R.D. "Rescue Fantasies and the Secret Benefactor." The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, vol. 47 at 282 (1992).

Subject's obsession with the library manager may also be seen as a submissive homosexual fantasy in which subject has placed himself in the role of the passive "damsel in distress," while assigning to the library manager the "heroic" task of redeeming subject from his state of lonely isolation and castration.

The latter passive homosexual fantasy seems pertinent to Blos' observation that a son's subordination of his life's work, ambition, dedication, and achievement to the libidinized expectations of his father are experienced by the son as a submissive and passive adaptation. The effort to surmount this never quite ego-syntonic position of a boy's active-passive balance in the mastery of self and environment reaches a crucial impasse at the closure of adolescence. At that juncture this unresolved imbalance frequently merges with associative identity fragments of a feminine self representation. If this emerging conflict cannot be contained or resolved, an abnormal psychic accommodation will take its course. Blos, P. "Freud and the Father Complex." The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, vol. 42 at 440 (1987)..

Subject, like many creative persons, "is loss-sensitive and separation-prone." Goldsmith at 267 (quoting Gilbert Rose). Subject would have experienced even relatively minor failures of maternal empathy as rejection. Subject's mother, though overprotective, was in fact unempathic and largely uninterested in her son's developing selfhood.

Subject's experience of his mother's lack of empathy as rejection resulted in a defensive resolution of the task of separation/individuation that was achieved ultimately by the rapid internalization of the dual aspect of the mother as both a gratifying and a frustrating (or critical) object.

Subject experiences a special need for a friend who will serve as a brother-figure or comrade-in-arms to restore his sense of narcissistic integrity.

In cases in which internalization of the ambivalently-cathected maternal object (that embodies the combined functions of negative sanction and endowing approval) occurs abruptly and prematurely, without adequate neutralization of ego-ideal and superego precursor, shame and castration anxiety do not become integrated into a smoothly operating unconscious guilt mechanism. Pathological guilt, shame and castration anxiety together with a tendency to intense primitive idealization will be seen in pathological manifestations. Freeman, D.M.A., Foulks, E.F., and Freeman, P.A. "Superego Development and Psychopathology." The Psychoanalytic Study of Society, vol. 7 at 121 (1976) (Gertrude R. Ticho, M.D., contributing editor).

In such cases the male patient may have a special need for a "brother" or comrade-in-arms to serve as an alter ego or "narcissistic object" to moderate the demands of his harsh, primitive superego. The choice of such a friend is based on characteristics that the individual feels he needs in order to complete himself and restore his original feeling of narcissistic safety and well-being. In this narcissistic position, he will not be ready to feel or empathize with others or participate in close relationships. Freeman, D.M.A., Foulks, E.F., and Freeman, P.A. "Ghost Sickness and Superego Development in the Kiowa Apache Male." The Psychoanalytic Study of Society, vol. 7 at 145 (1976) (Gertrude R. Ticho, M.D., contributing editor).


Subject experienced rage against his parents in childhood owing to the frustration of his oedipal wishes, and proceeded to annihilate his parents in fantasy. To remedy his consequent loneliness subject created, during the latency period, an imaginary twin sibling: a dissociated image of his ideal self. The imaginary twin sibling comforted subject in his loneliness.

Subject's obsessive preoccupation with the library manager as an imaginary, comforting brother figure may be a derivative of subject's latency period fantasy. Significantly, the dynamics of the fantasy of having a twin sibling center on the use of idealization as a defense against (oedipal) rage, a sequence that is overdetermined in subject's personality. See discussion above relating to INFANCY -- BONDING WITH TWO MOTHERS -- OBJECT LOSS -- RAGE -- IDEALIZATION AS DEFENSE.

A common daydream which in spite of its frequency has received very little attention to-date is the fantasy of possessing a twin. It is a conscious fantasy, built up in the latency period as the result of disappointment by the parents in the oedipus situation, in the child's search for a partner who will give him all the attention, love and companionship he desires and who will provide an escape from loneliness and solitude. The same emotional conditions are the basis of the family romance. In that well-known daydream the child in the latency period develops fantasies of having a better, kinder and worthier family than his own, which has so bitterly disappointed and disillusioned him. The parents have been unable to gratify the child's instinctual wishes; in disappointment his love turns to hate; he now despises his family and, in revenge, turns against it. He has death-wishes against the former love-objects, and as a result feels alone and forsaken in the world. Burlingham, D.T. "The Fantasy of Having a Twin." In: The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. Vol. 1 at 205 (1945). A further element in many daydreams of having a twin is that of the imaginary twin being a complement to the daydreamer. The latter endows his twin with all the qualities and talents that he misses in himself and desires for himself. The twin thus represents his superego. Id. at 209.

P.S. By the way, Brian, I can't believe I didn't think of this earlier. William said you have a policy of not befriending library patrons. How about if I promise never to set foot in the Cleveland Park branch again? I would thereby satisfy your necessary condition for friendship. Would that be sufficient? Think about it, buddy. Have a good holiday.

Monday, June 21, 2004

A Sense of Futility

Hey, buddy. How was your Father's Day? I hope you weren't saddled with any more maroon shirts.
I happened to see William last week. Did he tell you? I saw him on Connecticut Avenue. He waved. I called out to him: "Four more months!" Yes. Today is June 21st. My banishment began on April 21st. My return to the Cleveland Park branch is scheduled for October 21, barring unforeseen (but totally foreseeable) circumstances. I'm thinking of writing you a letter, buddy. A letter that will extend the ban. I'm thinking, "how does the ban hurt me?" It only helps me, really. No jury duty. Plus, Social Security will be calling sooner or later to find out about my status. A well-placed "nut case" determination made by my local librarian can only keep the checks flowing. You may never see me again. Unless, like William, you happen upon me on the street (or other venue).
I'm feeling like Ronald Reagan in the 1980 election. Remember that? When Reagan ran against Bob Strauss's old friend, Jimmy Carter? Reagan asked: "Are you better off today than you were four years ago?" I feel like asking you, Brian, "are you better off today than you were two months ago, at the beginning of my banishment?" I'm no better, I can tell you that. My interest rates in you have only soared; they're at about 20%. I think about you all the time, buddy, or at least 20% of the time. My unemployment remains the same. Yes, my personal economy is in a mess.
At my session with The Mad Monk, on June 9th, Dr. Bash said something interesting. Her spin on your decision to ban me was that you felt threatened by me. I explained that the infamous letter I wrote was not, in fact, threatening. I explained that even the police said the letter was non-threatening. Dr Bash said: "It doesn't matter. Brian felt threatened. That's enough." Yes, Brian felt threatened that's enough! Your opinion, regardless of how unsupported by objective facts, is sufficient.
Funny thing. At my last session with Dr. Bash on Friday June 18, I told Dr. Bash that I was uncomfortable in group therapy. I said I felt threatened by the other group members and the group leaders. "How?" asked Dr. Bash. "Well," I said, "there were comments from time to time about my disability benefits. That I was just malingering. That I was just in therapy to "keep the checks flowing." I said I felt those comments were threatening to my sense of honesty and integrity. I explained that no therapist, in the entire time I've been on Social Security, has implied or stated that I was engaging in any fabrication to "keep the checks flowing." Dr. Bash said: "That's not threatening. Those comments were not, in fact, threatening. I don't understand what you mean when you say you found those comments threatening." Interesting.
You see the dialectic, as Nicole Raffanello would say? When someone else says he feels threatened by me (you, for instance, Brian), that person's opinion is sufficient. He doesn't have to be objectively threatened. But when I say I feel threatened, my opinion, my subjective mental state is not enough. I have to be absolutely factually accurate. My statements have to be objectively verifiable and fact-based.
That's not simply quibbling. It's an important dynamic in my relations with others. It is the very dynamic that was at play in my job termination. My coworkers said they were afraid of me. That was their opinion. There's no objective evidence that I did anything of a threatening nature--by deed or word. But they said they felt threatened and that was enough. As Dennis Race said: "His coworkers said they were afraid of him."
Yet when I said it was my opinion that I was a victim of job harassment, my subjective mental state was scrutinized by a different standard. Dennis Race said that my opinion was the product of a psychiatric disorder and that I was potentially violent because I held a certain opinion. I was terminated (or banished) from the firm. My subjective opinion was scrutinized for its factual accuracy, and, shown wanting, I was determined to be mentally disturbed. What about the people who said that they were afraid of me, that they were afraid I was homicidal? Weren't they disturbed? No. They were just stating an opinion. That's all. Just like you, Brian. "Brian felt threatened by you. That was enough." For others, opinion rules. For me, serious fact checking is summoned.
We see the same dynamic in racism. A black guy goes into a white-owned store. He dallies. Walks around the aisles. Checks out items. The store owner says the black customer looks suspicious. That's enough. The store owner's opinion is sufficient to establish in some devious way that the black guy was "suspicious looking."
A black guy goes to a restaurant. He waits to be served. He waits and waits. No service. Other patrons, all white, who arrived after the black customer are waited on. The black guy complains: "In my opinion, there's something wrong here," he tells the manager. That's the black guy's opinion. Is it enough? No, a resounding no! "You people are all paranoid. There's nothing going on here. We're short on staff. You people are always walking around with a chip on your shoulder, thinking that everybody's out to get you."
Be that as it may.
I told Dr. Bash that listening to her invalidation of all my opinions is difficult for me. I explained that I've thought long and hard about my personality and my experiences over the years. That I've read a lot of articles in psychology, psychiatry, and psychoanalysis. I told her that I have ideas about my problems that will not be easily dislodged. So she asked me to clarify with some examples.
I said, "Well for one thing, I think, based on things I've read, that my earliest experiences in infancy caused problems for my development. When I was born, my parents lived at my grandmother's house, while they looked for a house to buy. They had been living in an apartment. But they had moved out of the apartment just before I was born. And I was raised for the first six months by two mothers, my maternal grandmother and my mother. I was bottle-fed, so they were able to share the feeding and caring duties. I think there's a chance I bonded with both my mother and my grandmother, and that when my parents moved out, when I was six months old, I may have experienced the loss of my grandmother as traumatic."
Dr. Bash's observation, so typical, was a fact-based analysis. "But you didn't, in fact, lose your grandmother. After you moved to your new house, your grandmother still came to visit. She still held you, fed you, took care of you." Fine. But what about my subjective experience? Did I feel a sense of loss, and was my development affected by that subjective experience of loss? Dr. Bash will never even entertain that question, because it involves assigning some value to my infantile subjective mental state. And we know that's forbidden for her. She will always apply a fact-based analysis to me; but, at the same time, permit others to have subjective opinions about me, or assign value to other persons' subjective mental state.
I'm willing to concede it's not a very crucial issue. I guess there's no way to know how I might have been affected by having two mothers. Though there is literature on the subject. Gary N. Goldsmith, a psychiatrist at Harvard, wrote a paper on Freud titled: "Freud's Aesthetic Response to the Moses of Michelangelo." The Annual of Psychoanalysis (1992). Freud himself had two mothers: his biological mother and a nanny on whom he was very dependent. Goldsmith argues that the experience was important for Freud's early development: that Freud experienced an infantile depression as a result of the loss of his nanny and that his repressed rage was expressed through its opposite--namely, idealization. Goldsmith offers the opinion, also, that Freud's aesthetic interests, or obsessions, (here, Michelangelo's statue of Moses) were a sublimation of his rage over the loss of his nanny.
It's interesting to observe the role of idealization in my personality functioning. My relationship with you is a fantasized one, based on an irrational idealization. In fact (if I may say that), my ban from the library and my mourning experience about the loss of library privileges may be interpreted, perhaps, as a derivative of some early loss. Couldn't the loss of my grandmother in infancy be seen as a precursor (one of several) or determinant of my reaction to you and my loss of you, buddy? Might not the behaviors that I engaged in prior to the ban, that in fact (may I say that?) resulted in that very ban, be seen as having been calculated to result in the ban - what might be termed an acting out in the service of the repetition compulsion? That is to say, perhaps, I was tempting you to punish me so that I could re-experience a loss and mourn over that loss, all in an attempt to master the loss. As the analysts say, the whole matter may evidence my need to transform a passively experienced loss at some early stage into a loss that is actively sought: a perverse form of ego mastery.
Of course, with Dr. Bash as my therapist, we'll never know.
Another thing. Dr. Bash always throws out the baby with the bathwater (no pun intended). Leave aside the question of infantile loss. It's simply useful to look at something else, if only because people always say to me: "Well, why is it that your sister turned out so well (yea, sure!) and you have all these problems in life?"
Dr. Bash didn't pursue the fact that from day one my sister was treated differently than me. My sister was breast-fed, while I was bottle-fed; my sister had one maternal attachment object, while I had two; my sister did not experience any confusion or loss connected with her mothering, while I experienced both confusion and loss. What does that say? It probably says something. One of my previous psychiatrists, I.J. Oberman (who trained in psychoanalysis with a student of Freud's, named Theodor Reik), once told me that whatever happened to me that caused my problems must have happened in the first six months of my life. Interesting, isn't it?
Then another thing. I have a theory that my early loss (well, in my opinion there was a loss) was not just injurious but also ego-strengthening. The complexity of my early relations and my attempts to master that complexity might have paved the way, in adulthood, for my ability to understand complex psychological issues and social situations. Whatever.
Then I told Dr. Bash about the injury I suffered when I was two-and-a-half years old. I explained that while my mother was cleaning some kitchen curtains, I put a curtain-rod in my mouth; I fell, and the curtain rod punctured the soft-palette. The wound bled profusely and had to be cauterized.
I explained that I had read an article that attributed developmental consequences to early childhood injury or mistreatment. Joseph Fernando, "The Exceptions: Dynamic and Structural Issues," in the 1997 annual, "The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child." Fernando's patient, a young adult, had suffered a broken leg in early childhood. According to Fernando, the injury and its aftermath (parental blaming behavior) caused a disturbance in her superego maturation, and led to the character type that Freud termed "The Exceptions." In "The Exceptions," the early idealized parental images are never metabolized as in the normal person, and the individual's superego remains warped. Such individuals attempt to recapture in their interpersonal relations in adulthood representations of their early idealized parental images. Fernando's patient was obsessed with two persons. The two persons were her only friends. The patient was not simply lonely. It was that she only wanted to bond with these two persons because they matched her internalized and idealized images of her parents. See the connection with me? Have you noticed that I tend to be a little obsessed (unrealistically, I might add) with certain persons? Also, another feature of the character type "The Exceptions" is that they are rebellious. The results of my own psychological testing state that I tend to "question and denounce social sanctions to the point that I lose sight of my own best interests" (William Fabian, Ph.D., The George Washington University Medical Center Department of Psychiatry). Isn't that quality suggestive of rebellion? Well, that's my opinion!
So we have a situation where I suffered a notable physical injury in early childhood. In adulthood I tend to become obsessed irrationally with certain idealized persons, and I have the personality quality of rebellion. I have identified a paper that draws all these issues together, and shows that these seemingly unrelated issues are all of a piece; they all fit together. Don't you think that should give Dr. Bash pause? Ah, but you're not a Mad Monk; you lack the monastery state of mind so necessary to understanding the monkish mentality.
You know what Dr. Bash's comment was? "Do you remember the injury and its aftermath?" "Very little," I said. "Well then," said The Mad Monk, "the injury could not have possibly affected your development if you don't even remember the injury." I have never, in my 27 years of psychotherapy, seen such a naive notion of psychological functioning. According to The Mad Monk, you have to remember an injury for it to affect you. Bizarre.
It is a tenet of psychoanalytic theory that early deprivation, injury, or loss is registered not only in memory (conscious or otherwise), but as autoplastic change in the ego, particularly in the ego defenses. Ruth Abraham (whose work is quoted by Goldsmith) writes that Freud's infantile disturbance in his relationship with his mother resulted in an early "splitting" of his image of his mother. Goldsmith goes on to argue that Freud's autoplastic response centered on reversal (of rage) and idealization. "Splitting," "reversal," and "idealization" are ego defenses -- they constitute an autoplastic response of the ego to an external stressor. They are not memories; they are structures. Arnold Rothstein, an internationally prominent expert in the area of narcissistic disorder, attributes the ego attitude of rebellion to an autoplastic response to deficiencies in early maternal love. See Rothstein, A. "The Ego Attitude of Entitlement." The International Review of Psychoanalysis, 4: 409-417 (1977). (Rothstein was a star football player in college, by the way -- not a viola player). Perhaps my relationship with the U.S. Social Security Administration is a symbolic derivative of early maternal deficiencies. Something worth looking at as I enter my second $100,000 of disability payments.
In the case of "The Exceptions" Fernando hypothesizes that the relative lack of superego maturation and integration in these persons affects maturation of the ego ideal, ultimately interfering with the deconcretization of the ego ideal and its integration into the personality as a substructure within the superego system, a process that normally takes place definitively in late adolescence. These are structural disturbances of the ego resulting from early injury or maternal deprivation -- not the persistence of memories of injury, deprivation, or loss.
There is a disturbing symmetry between, on the one hand, Dr. Bash's view of the personality as a collection of memories and thoughts, and her view, on the other, that the role of the therapist is to change the patient's conscious thinking -- to get the patient to adopt the therapist's outlook. That's brain-washing and mind control -- not psychotherapy. Psychotherapy, done properly, is a process involving structural changes in the ego. See Stanley R. Palombo, M.D., "The Emergent Ego."
Leonard Shengold makes a pertinent comment about the limitations of any therapeutic approach that depends on the patient simply accepting the mental outlook of the therapist: "When patients merely borrow the 'outlook' of their analysts (the analysts' views into the patients' minds), it is not insight and there is no integration. The patients must slowly and painfully make their own the mental contents and finally the correlative power."
Dr. Bash went on to caution me about reading technical material. "You should not be reading these things. You need to watch more television. (She actually said that). You need to read romance novels and detective stories. What do you read?" I said, "I like Hermann Hesse." "Who," said the Mad Monk? "Hermann Hesse. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1945." "Never heard of him," said The Mad Monk. "What does he write about," she asked. "Idealists, rebels, nonconformists, wanderers," I said. The Mad Monk's response: "That has nothing to do with you." And I suppose detective stories and romance novels have anything to do with me!
Then I went on to discuss my opinion (!) that I suffer from a rapprochement crisis. I explained that I thought my mother failed to respond appropriately to my combativeness and need for what Margaret Mahler calls "refueling," when I was a toddler. This was too much for Dr. Bash. At this point she summarily cut off the conversation. It was all too much for her.
"What television shows do you like?" she asked. "Well, I like Fear Factor, Law and Order, Cops, and America's Most Wanted." "Good," said Dr. Bash. "Watch them, and don't read any more psychoanalytic material."
Incidentally, if I may continue with this forbidden topic. Don't you find intriguing the internal consistencies between the Goldsmith paper (on infantile maternal loss) and the Fernando paper on the consequences of early childhood injury -- two issues that seemingly have nothing to do with each other?
According to Goldman, infantile maternal loss can lead to rage that is defended against by idealization. According to Fernando early childhood injury can lead to the failure to metabolize early idealized parental imagoes, with a tendency toward idealization in adulthood. Don't you see how these insights help explain my obsession with you, buddy.
Are you sort of empathizing for my sinking feeling about The Mad Monk? She doesn't know squat about anything that is important about my case. "But you don't remember the injury." "You never really lost your grandmother." Yes, those are the facts.
But in my opinion -- MY OPINION -- the actual loss and the actual injury, events that occurred if at all in the historical past, fall out of the present psychodynamic picture. What's interesting and significant is that these papers by Goldsmith and Fernando explain adult dynamics that, in fact -- IN FACT -- do seem to apply to me. Goldsmith's ideas and Fernando's ideas provide a useful orienting approach to the psychological issues of my irrational and obsessive idealization of you (and others) and my rebellious attitude toward authority figures. That's important. That's you and me, buddy. My idealized buddy, Brian.
In any event, Dr. Bash has concluded that mine is a useless case. "You don't want to change," she keeps repeating. "I can't help a patient who does not want to change." If you ask me, I have changed over my 27 years of psychotherapy. For the worse, that is. Yes sirree, Bob. I've changed all right. I've gotten markedly worse, particularly in the last year since I've been exposed to The Mad Monk.
Thus ends my communication from my mental prison - "Stalag" Freedman. Yes, I may as well be marooned in a prison camp on a desert island, like Dreyfus on Devil's Island.
Check you out later, Brian. I'll write you again next week, June 28th.
P.S. It was really good running into you at MLK this morning. Be advised: Branch librarians should not be seen at MLK in anything other than business attire. Seeing you in a tee shirt and jeans was disappointing; but then you do that sometimes, don't you. Disappoint, I mean.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Do You Speak Hebrew?


Hey, buddy. How's it goin'?
Another miserable weekend has just concluded. I'm looking forward to another miserable week.
My first therapeutic session with Dr. Bash, The Mad Monk, was a real hoot. It was a collection of contradictory observations, redundancies, and ultra-meaninglessness.
An image of Dr. Bash emerges from her observations. Perhaps I'm attributing a negative meaning to trivial events, but the image that does emerge is one of (on her part) a lack of internal object development. It's as if all her observations were an externalization of her own lack of internal psychological development.
Let me review with you what I wrote down, exactly as I wrote it in my notebook.
First, I told her about the problems I've had with you. The whole story about my writing letters to you and how you banned me from the library. I told her that I still write letters to you, but that I save the letters on my own e-mail account.
She said: "Why do you address the letters to Brian? Why not address the letters to someone else, so that you don't get Brian involved in this. That way, if you address the letters to someone else, it will keep you out of trouble with Brian."
I responded with an association or identification. I said: "Did you ever hear of the pianist Arthur Rubinstein, Dr. Bash? He said that whenever he gave a concert, when he first walked out onto the stage, he would scan the audience with his eyes. When he spotted an attractive female in the audience, he kept her image in his mind as he gave the concert. He would think only of her. He imagined that there was nobody else in the audience, and he imagined that throughout the concert he was playing only to her."
I explained that my letters to Brian are like that. Brian is fundamentally an unknown person who I've picked out to address letters to. I may as well be writing to the entire world, but I've chosen one person to write to: a person who seems in some way special to me. Dr. Bash interjected: "Yes, but you could just as easily pick someone else to write to." I answered: "But I've chosen not to. I've chosen to write to Brian. I believe we have a long history together. Like Rubinstein, I've made a choice based on my feeling that that one person is appealing to me."
At that point Dr. Bash said something intriguing and revealing. "So just because Rubinstein did that, you have to do that?" What is significant about Dr. Bash's comment is that it imputes to me an act of imitation or mimicry. I see someone else do something so I have decided to mimic that behavior. Of course that's wrong. What I've done is to recognize that I have an existing, intrinsic (internal) emotional need to connect with someone in a crowd of anonymous people and personalize the experience of being in a crowd of strangers. I have noted a parallel or analogy between my behavior or need and the behavior and need of another person, Arthur Rubinstein. What is important is that Dr. Bash's comment assumes a lack of any pre-existing internal needs or personality trends: a lack of internal object development.
At another point in the session, Dr. Bash suggested that I join a book club. She said: "You like books, you like to read. Why don't you join a book club, where you can get together with other people and read books, and discuss them with other people." Note that in a book club there is an important aspect of mimicry or imitation. If I were to join a book club, I would have to read a book simply because everybody else was reading a book. To paraphrase Dr. Bash's earlier comment about Arthur Rubinstein: "Just because someone else is reading a book, I should have to read the same book?" You see the contradiction. Obviously, imitation and mimicry is good and appropriate if it is in the service of social relations with a group of persons--according to Dr. Bash.
Then she says to me "Do you speak Hebrew?" ("Do I speak Hebrew??" I'm thinking what on Earth is she getting at here?) I said: "No, I don't speak Hebrew. I wasn't raised in the Jewish religion. I didn't have a Jewish education." "Why not?" she asks. I say: "Well, my mother wasn't Jewish. Only my father was Jewish." "So you're not Jewish," she says. "I am Jewish--according to the Reform movement." "No," she says, "you're mother has to be Jewish." "No," I say, "according to the Reform movement, you're Jewish if your father is Jewish and you've made some public affirmation of your Jewishness." "So," she says, "did you do that--make some public affirmation of your Jewishness?" I said "yes." "I used to go to services when I lived in Philadelphia."
"Do you have a synagogue in your neighborhood?" she asks. "Yes," I say, "Adas Israel." "Oh," says she, "is that Reform?" "No," I reply, "it's Conservative." "Well," says Dr. Bash, "is there a Reform synagogue near you?" I said: "Well, there's the Washington Hebrew Congregation on Massachusetts Avenue." "Well," says The Mad Monk, "why don't you go there? You could meet people there."
Finally, at last, the purpose of the initial question -- "Do you speak Hebrew?" becomes apparent. She couldn't just say, "Why don't you go to functions at a local synagogue, you could meet people there?" No. She has to go through the whole linguistic history ("Do you speak Hebrew?"), and then the whole split in the reform versus orthodox movements concerning who is a Jew, and the location and denomination of all the synagogues in my neighborhood -- all before she gets to the point. And of course, it's the same old point. "Join other people, and you'll make friends." It's a variation on "Do you eat out?"
That whole line of reasoning misses the point. The problem is the nature of my internal functioning and how that internal functioning impairs my social (external object) relations. Simply putting me with other people (whether in a book club, a restaurant, or a synagogue) is not going to promote my social relations, if there are significant factors in my internal functioning that impair my ability to connect with other people. She just doesn't get that. And probably never will.
Speaking metaphorically, you can't take a person with anorexia nervosa and treat the person by saying: "Well, aren't there any restaurants in your neighborhood where you could eat? Couldn't you phone out for a pizza or Chinese take-out?" All of that is irrelevant. The external availability of food is irrelevant to the anorexic's internal prohibitions against consuming food. Simply placing me with other people is not going to help me make friends. When a person's personality problems flow from a developmental experience of having been an outsider in his own family, he will carry that experience, and the adaptation to that experience, throughout life. Dr. Bash does not understand that I have the psychology of the outsider. The simple act of placing me with other people does not alter my deep-seated sense of myself as an outsider.
The fact is that just a few months ago I placed myself with a group of other people -- in group therapy. That certainly turned out well, didn't it? A little humor there. You would think Dr. Bash would ask about that, since it was she who recommended that I get involved in group in the first place. You would think she would have said: "Tell me about group therapy. Your feelings and reactions to the other group members and the group leaders. Tell me what you think went wrong there." But no. She asks: "Do you speak Hebrew!"
There's a mythical quality in Dr. Bash's thinking. If it were so easy to make friends -- if you can make friends simply by interacting in a group of people -- why are there so many lonely, isolated, and miserable people in the world? It makes no sense to me. Basically, all she is saying is that for her, for Dr. Bash, (1) interacting in groups of people is a source of narcissistic integrity and (2) she finds it easy to make friends in groups. That's all she's saying. Her comments indicate no insight whatsoever about precisely what intra-psychic difficulties can impair the development of social relations.
What I've come to see is that Dr. Bash does not see the distinction between "necessary conditions" and "sufficient conditions." Many therapists are like that. She looks at the necessary conditions of making friends, and assumes that satisfying those conditions are sufficient. A necessary condition of making friends is the act of interacting with other people. Getting involved in groups can serve that necessary condition. But the individual also has to have the psychological capacity to make friends -- that's internal, and a separate issue from the necessary condition of interacting with other people. I, for example, can interact with people, thereby fulfilling the necessary condition but that is not sufficient for me to make friends. In my case there are compelling intra-psychic factors that impair my ability to make friends. Dr. Bash assumes that one only need to satisfy the necessary conditions and ignores the fact that those necessary conditions may not be sufficient.
Analogy: How do you get into Harvard? Well, you first have to apply. That's a necessary condition for admission. Is that sufficient? No. You also have to have top grades and SAT scores -- those academic credentials are another necessary condition. But are they sufficient? No. Harvard has a limited number of spaces for entering freshman. It can accept only a limited number of even qualified candidates. So fulfilling the necessary conditions of applying, and having the necessary academic qualifications may not be sufficient to get into Harvard. But in Dr. Bash's way of thinking, if you fulfill the necessary conditions for making friends, that's all there is to it. And what does that omit? The fact that some people do not have the intra-psychic functioning that permits the development and maintenance of social relations. Again and again, Dr. Bash omits any consideration of internal object development.
What about the following psychological factors? Are they neutral as to social functioning?
Massive splitting and isolative defenses (Shengold);
Extreme anxiety and guilt in relation to drive expression (Novick and Kelly);
Unmetabolized superego precursors that dispose the individual to guilt and intense primitive idealization;
Superego deformation resulting from the failure to moderate early idealized parental imagoes, resulting in the behavioral effects of intense primitive idealization and rebellion (Fernando);
Loss in infancy of a primary maternal attachment object with a lifelong disposition to depression (Goldsmith);
Rapprochement crisis resulting from the mother's failure to respond appropriately to the toddler's phase-appropriate neediness (need for "refueling") and combativeness (Greenberg and Mitchell); and
Development in a narcissistically-regressed environment in which the patient served as a scapegoat for forbidden impulses (Brodey and Bowen).
I asked Dr. Bash if she had written any papers or published any papers. She said that she had written a paper comparing children raised on the Kibbutz with city-raised children. Fascinating! What occurred to me -- and I see this as truly frightening -- is that Dr. Bash herself was raised on a kibbutz, or perhaps kibbutz-like thinking was an important part of her developmental background. (She's a fifth-generation Israeli).
Kibbutz life is communal. Everybody eats together, works together, the children are raised together in a group, and so forth. These people's whole sense of self-esteem and narcissistic integrity comes from being with others. Conformity rules. The worst thing in the psychology of these people is to be separated from others and to fail to conform to the social mores of the group.
For the individual raised in a kibbutz, there are strong impediments to individualism. The notion that an individual might find a sense of narcissistic integrity by being a nonconformist -- different from the group -- would seem incomprehensible and reprehensible. But that's me! I derive my sense of self-esteem by looking to my own personal values and following them. Speaking metaphorically, I like to go skinny-dipping while everybody else is going to church. Speaking of Harvard graduates, I'm like the guy who built himself a cabin on Walden pond, lived there, then wrote about the experience. What I admire are, as Primo Levi called them, "Waldenesque people" - the very antithesis of the Kibbutznik. I fear that my values and Dr. Bash's values are diametrically-opposed.
I think Dr. Bash suffers from minyan mania. She's a minyan maniac. Everything you do, you have to do in a group of at least nine other people. You even have to read the books that everybody else is reading. F--- that!
I was thinking of something of psychoanalytic interest. The fact that infants are naturally and universally other-directed; they are object seeking. When baby sees mother, he naturally holds up his hands to be held. He seeks out the nipple without reservation. It's as if Dr. Bash externalizes that behavior onto me. "Simply place Freedman with other people, and he will naturally and unreservedly reach for the nipple." Guess again. In group therapy I exhibited a lot of weariness of the group, its values and behaviors. My dominant struggle was one of autonomy: maintaining my own identity and sense of individualism in the face of the strong group pressures to conform to group mentality. Dr. Bash's externalization -- the idea that all people (from infancy on) -- are object-seeking or other-directed is false.
It is instructive to keep in mind the following: There are no anorexic infants. Infants do not think: "Well, I better not drink too much of this milk, I might get fat." There are no paranoid infants: "I better not drink this milk, she may have poisoned the milk." There are no vindictive infants: "She really pissed me off yesterday, I'm just not going to drink her milk--the hell with the nipple, I'll do without!"
But in fact there are paranoid adults, anorexic adults, and angry (self-defeating) adults. Dr. Bash's externalization that people are naturally other-directed and unreservedly object-seeking totally ignores -- once again -- internal object development: the developmental experiences and intra-psychically-generated fantasies that are the precursors of internal object development. Dr. Bash needs to have a good, long, hard talk with Stanley Greenspan, M.D.
I told Dr. Bash about the library patron who is allowed to sleep all day at the Cleveland Park Library. I thought her reaction was revealing. She said: "Oh, he must be homeless. That's why he sleeps in the library. You have to feel sorry for those people. There's nothing wrong with that. Homeless people have nowhere else to go. So they sleep in the library."
I said: "Dr. Bash, I don't know if he is, in fact, homeless. All I know is that he sleeps all day in the library." Dr. Bash said: "He must be homeless. That's why he sleeps in the library."
What's interesting about Dr. Bash's observation is the element of confabulation. She assumes without any evidence that the man is homeless. In effect, she resorts to confabulation to exonerate the man's inappropriate behavior or bad act of sleeping in the library.
Notice that she seems to apply a different principle to me. She does not say: "Mr. Freedman, I must assume that you must have had a difficult and painful childhood (confabulation) for you to have the social problems that are plainly evident in you (first-hand evidence)." But with the misbehaving patron she says: "I must assume the library patron is homeless (confabulation) for him to sleep in the library all day (first-hand evidence)." This inconsistency is not a good sign. In fact this first session is not a good sign of things to come -- and apparently there's still a lot to come.
The Mad Monk said she won't be able to locate a therapist for me until September. So that's at least another ten weeks with The Mad Monk!
Check you out later, buddy. I'll be taking a break from letter writing for the rest of this week. I'll write you again next Monday June 21, 2004.
P.S. I can't believe Tony Blair was in my neighborhood last week (at the National Cathedral) and he didn't even stop by my place. I've had it with these Prime Ministers!
P.P.S. I gave the following memo to Dr. Bash. It's my goals in therapy. I'm looking for one "best friend." You're the friend, Brian.

TO: Israela Bash, Ph.D. FROM: Gary Freedman DATE: June 9, 2004 RE: Goals in Psychotherapy __________________________________________________________________________
A few months ago Dr. Cooper said that I need to formulate goals in therapy -- clearly-defined, achievable goals.
I have thought long and hard about my goals, and I would like to state them to you now. I believe the following goals are realistic and achievable. In support if my contention that the goals are realistic, I cite the names of individuals whose life-styles include these behaviors.
1. I would like to have one best (male) friend, and no other friends. Too many friends unnecessarily complicate life. I will be satisfied with one very close friend. (Michael Chabon).
2. I would like to sleep all day in the Cleveland Park Library. Sleeping all day in the library is very gratifying, and can be a socially-acceptable way of living one's life (John Conner).
3. I would like to be grandiose, lacking in empathy, and interpersonally exploitive. This is a life-style that works for many people. (Rocco DiSpirito).
4. I would like to have a set of "pen-pals" which whom I can communicate in writing on a regular basis. I want to have no social or direct contact with these persons. Under no circumstances may these individuals address me by my first name. My preference is that my letters be a mixture of intellectual abstractions and bawdiness. (Oliver Wendell Holmes).
These are my goals. I look forward to working toward these goals with you, Dr. Bash.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

The Pope and the Prime Minister


Hey, buddy. Whassup?
I SURVIVED DR. BASH!!!! I'll tell you all about it on Monday June 14, 2004. There's just too much to talk about now.
Check out the letter to the U.S. Attorney I've written (6/10/04). It's a rage reaction, I suppose, to my session with Dr. Bash yesterday. An analyst could tell you why it discharged my anger. I don't know why, but I feel a lot better having written it.
I'm thinking of sending it to Joe DeGenova:
Dear Mr. DeGenova:
The Pope and the Prime Minister of Israel are conspiring against me--they want to destroy me.
I request your pro bono representation in putting a stop to this conspiracy. I realize that there are problems of jurisdiction and sovereign immunity. But I'm confident there's something you can do.
I've written about this matter to a former U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia who is now in private practice; unfortunately he has not responded to my inquiry.
Check you out later, buddy. Don't let the Pope take advantage of you, Brian.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

A Sense of Foreboding


Hey, buddy. What's up? Do you mind if I ask?

I haven't prepared a letter for you today. I'm writing extemporaneously, in real-time as they say. Just some random thoughts off the top of my head.

Tomorrow's the big day. My big day with The Mad Monk, Dr. Bash. I have a feeling she's going to drop me like a hot potato. You know, she says she can't work with somebody like me. Somebody who doesn't want to change. Supposedly, this thing's only going to be an interim thing till Dr. Bash can arrange a permanent therapist for me. Let's hope that's soon.

Dr. Bash is too dogmatic for me. To paraphrase former President Reagan: "My problems are not problems of psychological dogma. Rather, they are problems of flesh and blood; problems that cause real pain and destroy my psychic fiber--the psychic fiber of a real person who should not suffer the further indignity of being told by the psychologists and psychiatrists of this world that it is all somehow my fault."

I figure I'll give Dr. Bash the "Woe is Freedman speech." "Woe is Freedman, woe is Freedman." You know, the whole crap about the social isolation, the lack of friends, family or social contacts of any kind. The fact that I can't hold down a job. I'll add the stuff about the Pope and the Prime Minister of Israel, for good measure. You know the whole deal. It's a "vast conspiracy" out there that's been trying to deny me a life, lo these many years. I figure if Hillary Clinton can pull it off, so can I.

Of course, I'll talk about you. "I need to see Brian. He's my only chance for a friend right now. You're going to have to talk to Brian, Dr. Bash."

I was thinking about you and the whole library situation, Brian. You know, I'm allowed to return to the library in mid-October. I might return then, I might not. Yes, that's right. I just might stay away for a longer time, for good, even. You might never see me again. I'm thinking you should apologize first. That just might be my pre-condition to returning to the library at Cleveland Park: an apology from you. After all I've gone through, the whole crazy thing with the Metro Police, and so forth, it's the least you can do.

Back in February 1992, the last time I had lunch with Craig the Embalmer, it was just a few months after I had been fired by Akin Gump. I told Craig I had been laid off--not fired. I said I might return "if Larry Hoffman (the managing partner) gets down on his knees . . ." And Craig interjected: "Gets down on his knees and gives you a blowjob?" I said: "No, gets down on his knees and begs -- begs me to come back. Then and only then might I consider returning to Akin Gump."

I'm thinking along the same lines now, buddy. I think you should apologize. But not just any ordinary apology. You're gonna have to get down on your knees and beg -- beg me to come back to CPK. Really, do I need CPK? No, not really. I'm doing pretty well at the other branch libraries and MLK. I just might decide to stay away from CPK for good. I'm gonna run that by the Metro Police (and maybe the U.S. Attorney's Office). It'll be like Paula Jones: "I just want an apology."

One of my old psychiatrists said my problem in life was that I wanted too much. "You want too much," he often said -- in regard to countless issues. He said that was my problem in making friends, that I expected too much from people. "The way to make friends is to just interact with people, and things may develop or not. You have to engage in give-and-take." I don't get it. I was thinking about the writer Michael Chabon (who apparently had problems with co-eds who majored in French). He said he's always had one best friend and no other friends. (He's heterosexual.) The funny thing is that that's unconventional. If I stated that as a goal in therapy, I'd be told that's not the way social relations work. "I'm looking for a best friend and no other friends. That's my goal." The therapist will say: "That's not a realistic goal."
But it works for Michael Chabon. What I don't get is this: Therapists seem to work according to "conventional morality." A person needs to "change" to the extent his goals and behaviors are inconsistent with conventional ways of behaving and thinking. That omits the fact that there are lots of unconventional people out there who are getting their unconventional needs met. You see the problem? Another example is Oliver Wendell Holmes, whose social relations were limited to writing letters. Now if I stated that to a therapist as my goal: "I just want to have pen-pal type relationships and nothing else," well, the therapist will say that's abnormal (unconventional) and needs to be "changed." But it worked for Holmes.

Another example: That library patron at CPK -- what's his name -- John Conner? He sleeps all day in the library. You know who I mean? The guy who was in the Peace Corps. Now if I said to Dr. Bash: "My goal is to be permitted to sleep in the library all day long," she'd say, "no wonder you have problems with Brian. You can't sleep in the library all day." But it works for John Conner. Why? Why is that?

Did you catch that TV show "The Restaurant," with Rocco DiSpirito? On one of the episodes a few weeks ago, there was a table full of psychiatrists at the Restaurant. Rocco got into a conversation with them. He told them he was "a certified narcissist." One of the psychiatrists said: "Well, it works for you." (Jeffrey Chodorow, Rocco's dispirited partner, might disagree). But why? Why does it work for Rocco?

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a recognized mental disturbance. Symptoms include grandiosity, lack of empathy, interpersonal exploitiveness, and so forth. A therapist will tell an unhappy narcissist -- "You need to change." But why? Why eliminate or modify the narcissistic qualities? Why not just make the narcissism work for the patient? It's as if these therapists confuse their role with that of the clergy. With the clergy, the aim is for the individual to be a "good person." But why be good, if "badness" works for you? Further, therapists assume that if things are not going well for the patient, it's because of his "bad" (unconventional) characteristics. Not necessarily.

The thing is I've been in therapy so long now (27 years), I'm just totally confused. I really am in a "woe is me" state of mind. I've just given up. Too many years, with too many questions unanswered. I'll talk to you later this week. I'll be taking the day off tomorrow.

Take care, buddy. I hope I survive The Mad Monk.

Monday, June 07, 2004

A Huge Epiphany


Hey, buddy. I woke up this morning with this huge epiphany. Of course, a lot of guys wake up in the morning with huge epiphanies. So, there's no need to go into that.
Another miserable weekend. The weather, the boredom, and this weekend -- an added torment. Thoughts about starting therapy with Dr. Bash on Wednesday. Yes, Dr. Bash called me on Thursday afternoon last and told me to see her on Wednesday at 2:00. She was speaking in her professional voice. Not a good sign.
You know how I got started in therapy? It all started 27 years ago. Someone talked me into seeing a shrink. It was a lady who did her practice in her apartment. We sat down and talked. The phone rang. She went through the swinging doors, and I could see into her kitchen. She had a pork roast sitting on the counter, waiting to be placed in the oven. How am I going to take advice from someone like that, I thought? Someone who eats treif. That was the end of my first shrinkage. Maybe if she had been kosher I'd have stayed in therapy with her.
I live in an askew universe of my own making. I've made my way to age 50 with the blissfully oblivious demeanor of someone who doesn't know any better or, more precisely, doesn't know any other way. I happily admit that I have no judgment, so I have chosen a throw-everything-against-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks approach to life. I'm a terrible analyzer of what will be good for me or anyone else.. Whatever I think the outcome is going to be, I'm always wrong. Like you and me, buddy. I thought we'd eventually get around to being friends. I thought eventually you'd find me and my letters irresistible, and you'd say something along the lines of "Hey, Freedman, let's get together. Let's do lunch." Man, was I wrong!
I live inside my own head. My own world is the only one that makes any sense at all to me. I often speak as if I'm having a Socratic dialogue with myself. What's funny to me is something the rest of the world doesn't understand. I'm a very private person who lives in his head. When that is interrupted, it interferes with my sanity. I'm fundamentally a very delicate person.
That fragility was captured in my experience in group therapy. The rough and tumble world of group -- the name-calling, the envy, the jealousy, and so forth just set me off. I couldn't take it. I don't respond in kind. I try to treat people with respect. I can't just come right out and say: "He's only here to keep the disability checks flowing." Even though I couldn't stand those people, I could see they were psychologically vulnerable and I had enough empathy that I couldn't just devalue them outright. What I need is not just a tougher skin, but a tougher approach to other people who don't deserve my respect. But then, the way group was, they'd all just pounce on me if I fought back. It's like the old Jewish expression: "Rock falls on jug, jug breaks. Jug falls on rock, jug breaks. Poor jug." That's me, the poor jug.
Like when Craig the Embalmer started working at Hogan, everybody was all over me because I wasn't friendly with Craig. "Have you talked to the new guy?" "He seems like a really nice guy." (Actually I hate nice guys. That's why I like you, buddy). So I was a bad person because I wasn't friendly with the nice new guy.
Then when I started to work at Akin Gump, and nobody talked to me, I was in the wrong. "Oh, he's extremely shy. Or he's psycho or something." Aren't I a nice guy? Wasn't it wrong for other people not to make a social overture to me? I guess not. Poor jug. I remember being so miserable at Akin Gump. I was really in despair.
You know another problem for me is that my delicate nature makes it difficult for me to engage in small talk. I'm totally reluctant to glad-hand. I'm just not a glad-hander. I remember when I started at Akin Gump, I glad-handed with David Callet. I wished I hadn't later on.
I think I'm better off not socializing. I make a better impression if I'm not around. Like right now, for instance -- and for the past 12 years -- I've been making a fantastic impression at law firms all over the city. And that's just by my not being around. It's when I show up at a law firm that the problems begin.
Things were great between you and me, Brian, for the year that I was writing letters to you, staying anonymous. The problems started right after I got up the nerve to give you that gift back in late March 2004. The Beethoven CD. Remember that? Within a month, I was gone. I should have stuck to the anonymous letters. I would have made a better impression by staying anonymous.
The world of my own making, the world of my own fantasy is the only real and worthwhile world for me. It's like: "O.K., this is Freedman. Freedman knows he's just living out a fantasy. Freedman knows it's not real. Freedman is having a good time."
I know how things are going to go with Dr. Bash. Dr. Bash lives in the "real" world. She disdains fantasy. Trouble.
She tells me "You need to change. You're problem is you don't want to change. I can't work with a patient who doesn't want to change." I take that as an insult. I change my underwear every day. What more does she expect? Briefs, T-shirt, socks. I never wear them two days in a row. That's change. And that's about all the change that I can handle. But, do you really need any more change than that?
Dr. Bash is one of these "You need to this" -- "You need to do that" type of therapists. Like I don't know what I need to do! I know what I need to do. The question is how do I do it? I know I need to do more than just lay around on my couch all day. But how do I work if people spread rumors about me and make it impossible to keep a job. It's hard to keep a job when people are spreading stories that you're planning to buy a gun, bring it in, and shoot everybody.
I'd like to have friends. I know I need friends. But just how do you do that? How do you do that when you keep having to face these interlopers from South Africa! I told you the story about Craig the Embalmer. Back in the end of May 1991. We were going to get together. Hang out. At the last minute Craig calls me and tells me he can't get together with me because he has a friend coming in from South Africa. Just how do you deal with that whole South African situation? I just never learned how to negotiate that whole thing. Craig said: "It's an old friend from graduate school. I haven't talked to him in a long time." Funny thing. When I called Craig in July 1993, after not having talked to him in a long time, he said to me: "Why are you calling me after all this time?" You see the contradiction? Again, poor jug!
I'd like to be able to keep my inheritance. You know when you inherit money it's yours. You get to keep that. It's your property. But when I inherited money from my mother, my sister and brother-in-law were waiting in the wings. "Hand it over," they basically said. "We want the inheritance." At that time, back in 1980, my brother-in-law was working as an account executive at Merrill Lynch (he had a business degree). He was making like $100,000 per year. They didn't even need the money. But I had to hand over my inheritance.
Actually, that's my little stab at humor. My brother-in-law wasn't earning $100,000 a year as an account exec in 1980. He had a business degree (paid for by his uncle), but he worked a crappy job as a sixth-grade teacher in Camden, New Jersey - the garden spot of the Garden State. Don't let my sister tell you she wasn't hungry for my inheritance.
Oh -- and yes -- lest we forget, I'd like to visit my local library. But I find of late I can't do that, under penalty of arrest. That's another thing that's been wrongfully denied me. (As you can see I have a virtuoso collection of wounds and angers.) The rules are different for me, apparently. It's unlawful for me to use the computer consistent with its intended use. It's unlawful for me to admit I suffer from depression or that I think about punitive damages or that I refuse to do what I have no legal duty to do. Yes, those things get me in trouble. But other people are allowed to sleep all day in the library. Get into arguments with other patrons. Argue with the librarians (like good old Lori). Talk about masturbation in a loud tone of voice with the librarians. All that's OK. But just don't ever talk about punitive damages. Poor jug.
Another thing with Dr. Bash is my relationship with my sister. "Why don't you call your sister?" "You should call your sister." Like my sister has no duties in relation to me. I'm the sick one. Believe me, my sister never failed to mention that! I'm the one with paranoid schizophrenia or bi-polar disease, or delusional disorder -- or whatever the hell I suffer from at the moment. I'm the one who's been disabled for the past 13 years. Doesn't a family member -- namely, my sister -- have any duties in relation to me? Why is it I who has a duty in relation to my sister. I'll tell you this. David Riess -- he's a local psychiatrist. He's the editor-in-chief of the journal Psychiatry. He says that paranoid schizophrenia is the "cancer" of mental illness. That's illness! And I've been diagnosed with that. You're telling me my sister has no duty to contact a relative with "cancer?"
I think if my sister were to call me, I'm not even sure I'd want to talk to her. She's a nut-job. I feel better not talking to her, really. My sister was a French major. Did I ever tell you that, Brian? Yes, she majored in French -- at least for a time.
French majors!
I admit I have an ugly fondness for generalizations, so perhaps I may be forgiven when I declare that there is always something weird about a girl who majors in French. She has entered into her course of study, first of all, knowing full well that it can only lead to her becoming a French teacher, a very grim affair, the least of whose evils is poor pay, and the prospect of which should have been sufficient to send her straight into business or public relations. She has been betrayed into the study of French, heedless of the terrible consequences, by her enchantment with this language, which has ruined more young American women than any other foreign tongue.
Second, if her studies were confined simply to grammar and vocabulary, then perhaps the French major would develop no differently from those who study Spanish or German, but the unlucky girl who pursues her studies past the second year comes inevitably and headlong into contact with French literature, potentially one of the most destructive forces known to mankind, and she begins to relish such previously unglamorous elements of her vocabulary as languere and funeste, and, speaking English, inverts her adjectives, to let one know that the sometimes even thinks in French. The writers she comes to appreciate -- Breton, Baudelaire, Sartre, de Sade, Cocteau -- have an alienating effect, especially on her attitude toward love, and her manner of expressing her emotions becomes difficult and theatrical, while those French writers whose influence might be healthy, such as Standhal or Flaubert, she dislikes and takes to reading in translation, where she willfully misreads Madame Bovary and La Chartreuse, making dark romances of them.
Be that as it may. So much for my sister, the French major. Would you go out of your way to telephone a French major? Would Fred Cohen go out of his way to telephone a French major? I don't think so.
Another thing Dr. Bash is always recommending is that I eat out. "Do you eat out?" she always asks me. Like I'm going to make friends with diners in restaurants. "Hello. My name is Gary Freedman. I have paranoid schizophrenia. I'm disabled and haven't worked in 13 years. My last supervisor said she was afraid I was going to kill her. And the D.C. Government determined that my coworkers formed genuine fears that I might have been planning to carry out a Columbine-style assault at the law firm where I used to work. Do you mind if I join you for dinner?" Right.
Maybe Dr. Bash thinks I'll meet a hot waitress (or waiter). Maybe mingle with the kitchen staff. Maybe she thinks it'll be like "Rocco meets Jeffrey." And that -- that -- really worked out, didn't it? Rocco DiSpirito and Jeffrey Chodorow (or whatever his name was). Rocco and Jeffrey almost ended up killing each other. Believe me, it's best not to get involved with strangers in restaurants.
If Dr. Bash asks me that again, you know, "Do you eat out?" I'm going to say. I only eat kosher. I only eat at kosher Vietnamese restaurants. And they don't have any in my neighborhood. Listen lady, I don't eat treif.
The thing is I just like very few people to begin with. It's not just a matter of meeting people generally. It's not like you put me with a random collection of people, and I'll mix and mingle and end up befriending people. There are very few people I genuinely like, who I genuinely would like to get to know. And I generally know who I like in the first five minutes. I identify with a passage in J.D. Salinger's short story "Franny and Zoe."
I love this line: "And you make people nervous, young man," she said--most equably, for her. "You either take to somebody or you don't. If you do, then you do all the talking and nobody can even get a word in edgewise. If you don't like somebody--which is most of the time--then you just sit around like death itself and let the person talk themself into a hole. I've seen you do it."
It's like I told you before. I'm a big fan of that TV reality series "Big Brother." That show's been on every summer since the year 2000. So far there have been about 48 contestants. Of those 48 people I only liked one person. My old buddy, His Holiness Hardy-Ames Hill.
I'm an individualist. A nonconformist. Those are the people I like. I'm thinking at this moment of a variation on the old Woody Allen (or was it Groucho Marks) joke: "I wouldn't belong to any organization that would have me as a member." My motto is: "I wouldn't be a member of any organization whose members look to organizations for friendship." Did you watch that TV show "Colonial House?" There were some folks on that show I liked. The Voorhees family. John and Michelle. They were individualists. Nonconformists. While everybody else was attending Sunday church services, they were out skinny dipping, defying the crowd. I think probably John Voorhees had one huge epiphany out there in the woods, the kind of epiphany you don't get at church services.
They (John and Michelle) had no problem saying to the group. "We believe what we believe. And we don't do things just to be a part of the group. We're not going to do something just because it's the norm, or just to conform." John Voorhees spent four years in the Marines and he's tried his hand at writing: short stories and a novel. Creative guy. Yes, a creative individualist. I liked John Voorhees. Very grounded. Good-looking, too.
Well, as you can predict, this whole Dr. Bash thing is not looking too promising. If Dr. Bash starts in with this "You need to do this" -- "You need to do that" crap, I'll just parody her with "You need to call Brian." "You need to call Brian and tell him he has no right to curtail my library privileges." Of course, she'll say: "I'm not going to call Brian." And I'll say: "Well, I'm not going to eat out. Period."
The whole thing is going to end up with bitterness and recriminations, deadlock, stalemate, and argument. I can only really function in an analytic type of therapeutic setting. In analysis, you just talk about whatever is on your mind. It's like these letters, really. You just talk, and make connections. Connections between the present and the past. Connections between the intra-psychic and the interpersonal. Connections between yourself and the analyst; connections between your relationship with the analyst and your relations with other people, both past and present. That's what it's all about. And that's all it's about. Nothing more. Nothing less.
There's an analyst in my apartment building. His name is Martin Ceaser, MD. He graduated from Case-Western Reserve University, but I don't hold that against him. Yes, he's from Ohio, but not all Ohioans are bad people. Dr. Ceaser has an older guy for a patient who does analysis. The guy seems to be in his late fifties, I guess. He's here every day at 7:30 AM. Doing his analysis. Dr. Sack, who passed away last August (August 5th or maybe August 6th -- I can't be sure, as Albert Camus would say), had an older lady in her 60's (I suppose) who did analysis. I guess it's never too late to change your underwear, or anything else.
The thing is I'd like to do analysis, but it's damned expensive. You can imagine seeing a doctor 5 days a week, just how expensive that is. I could afford one dollar per session. I think doctors have an ethical duty to see reduced-fee patients, don't they? I'd agree to see Dr. Caesar for one dollar per session. It doesn't sound like much, but when you stop to think that at the end of the week that's five bucks -- well, that's enough for a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Dr. Ceaser likes Starbucks -- he likes to drink out. A year of "one-dollar-per consult" analytic sessions, and you've got enough money for 50 cups of coffee at Starbucks. Nobody can possibly sit down and drink 50 cups of coffee at one sitting. So that's a lot of coffee. When you think about it in those terms, one dollar per session is actually quite a hunk of change. I gotta run that by old Marty Caesar. See what he says.
P.S. It was a shame about Ronnie, wasn't it? I was thinking about Michael Bergin's comment about Jack Nicholson: "There was something electric about him. It was as if he single-handedly changed the molecular structure of a room when he entered it." Mike Bergin used to be the Calvin Klein underwear model. Bergin changes his underwear every day, so he claims.
As a memorial to President Reagan, I've made an addition to my autobiography. What do you think? Oddly enough, my memorial to Ronald Reagan fits in the section that talks about Jesse Raben. Uncanny, eh? You see, the flora at Rancho del Cielo (speaking metaphorically) is not just a collection of vegetation. It's an eco-system. The psychoanalysts say (and they're right) --these associations are not random; they're unconsciously-determined and they recur, again and again.
He then came out of his room, . . . Hugo Wolf, Letter to His Parents. I rose. Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness. [He] looked at me, and said: "I have seen you before, I think. You are . . ." Hugo Wolf, Letter to His Parents. . . . Rabenstein? Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust. Ah, no, no! Richard Wagner, Letter to Mathilde Wesendonk (April 7, 1858). . . . pardon the slip! Richard Wagner, Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg. . . . Raben? Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust. I must confess that . . . Primo Levi, The Periodic Table. . . . I was born . . . Matt Ridley, Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters. . . . Rabensteiner, . . . Franz Kafka, The Trial. . . . a Jew: Primo Levi, The Periodic Table. . . . but I sign . . . Arthur Rubinstein, My Young Years. . . . Raben . . . Richard Wagner, Gotterdammerung. . . . as a pen name . . . E. James Lieberman, Acts of Will. . . . now and then. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust. I thought as much! Richard Wagner, Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg. For a moment the old man was silent. Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar. I looked at him, lost in astonishment. Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness. There was something electric about him. It was as if he had single-handedly changed the molecular structure of the room. It struck me that what I'd heard about certain celebrities was true: they had It, whatever the hell It was. Star power isn't a myth; it is tangible and forceful. Michael Bergin, The Other Man: A Love Story. John F. Kennedy Jr., Carolyn Bessette, & Me. He went in front of me and opened the door of the reception room, which was furnished in a truly royal style. In the middle of the room was a couch covered in velvet and silk. Wagner himself was wrapped in a long velvet mantle bordered with fur. When I was inside the room he asked me what I wanted. Hugo Wolf, Letter to His Parents.
Check you out later, buddy. Stay clear of the decaff.