Monday, April 18, 2005

Return of the Native

The following essay is largely a paraphrase of a biographical note about Hermann Hesse by the novelist, Thomas Mann.  The note is included as a foreword in some editions of Hesse's novel, Demian.

April 18, 2005


Hey, buddy.

Well, we met again on familiar territory on Friday April 15, 2005. I returned to the library. It wasn’t all I expected. It was really rather depressing, actually. I felt nervous and agitated. I experienced a bemused alienation and disconnection from what had been a second home for me these many – perhaps, too many years. Maybe I had spent too much time in the library in years past.

In any event, on Friday, you may have noticed that I logged on to the computer, but I left before my computer time arrived. I just couldn’t stand being in those surroundings anymore. I felt, perhaps, the way Captain Dreyfus might have felt upon his return to France after years of tormented exile on Devil’s Island. It was all too, too much.

For the last year I had arrayed myself as comfortably as possible like Robinson Crusoe on my lonely island. When I look back at that lonely year from the perplexities and pressure of the present, it seems to me like a beautiful and heroic era, oddly enough. The splendid isolation was not lacking in advantages and in charms; I was free to do as I chose; I read what I fancied in bare feet; and I didn’t have to put up with the blare of screaming children, as one must in the library. I was subject to no influences, and no pressure was brought to bear on me. I learned to feast on my solitude and I honed my skills as a letter writer.

If the truth be told I am not suited for the practicalities of life; my mind floats in otherworldly dreams, more preoccupied with the potential of the spirit than with everyday vicissitudes. I love language, books, and music, and the most splendid moments of my uneventful existence have been the few operas I have attended, or the books I have perused in isolation from my fellows. I treasure every detail of the times I have spent in isolation. As I read I imagine every sentence, every page and every chapter as a mirror of my life, my passions and my afflictions. I take refuge in this extravagant, romantic atmosphere whenever I feel weighed down by the vulgarity of life.

I am an artist, really. Or at least I am an individual with an artistic temperament. My moments of highest joy are those I have spent alone. And that is the triumph and tragedy of my existence. Despite the gratifications afforded by my splendid isolation I still long for the Other in my loneliness: the Other who might complete me. Failing to find that Other I live in perpetual disillusion and frustration.

I am a rebel individualist divorced from established dogma and institutions, a lonely incorrigible seeker of new norms. For me life presents itself as a struggle for individualism; I experience my life at times as humorously petulant and at other times as a mystically yearning estrangement from the world and the times. I sometimes feel, in my grandiose moments, that I belong to the highest and purest spiritual aspirations and labors of our epoch.

My spiritual and emotional struggles can be traced to my alienation from my family in childhood. The roots of my estrangement from established institutions and settled norms began in the peculiarities of my early family life. Like most parents mine were no help with the new problems of puberty to which no reference was ever made. All they did was take endless trouble in supporting my hopeless attempts to deny reality and to continue dwelling in a childhood world that was becoming more and more unreal. I have no idea whether parents can be of help, and I do not blame mine. It was my own affair to come to terms with myself and to find my own way, and like most well-brought up children, I managed badly. My parents seemed wedded to some vague suggestions of old-world, Victorian morality with its belief in the inherent sinfulness of man, in the necessity of breaking the will of the individual, and with its uncompromising renunciation of all that is of this world. My family was the first of many social structures which were to rouse the rebel in me.

I was a hypersensitive, imaginative, lively and extremely headstrong child, and proved to be a constant source of despair and annoyance to my parents and my teachers. School held as little attraction for me as it did for any incorrigible. Hardly had the fourth year of high school begun before I became delinquent and was almost dismissed.

College and law school were meant to end the morbid estheticism into which I had allowed myself to drift. I hoped thereby to become an established, respected member of society. This hope was never realized. Except for the first few years, my law school education did not alleviate my feeling that life is essentially meaningless, nor could my idyllic retreat into academia long contain my inherent restlessness. By 1984, upon completion of my LL.M. program at American University, the life in the law had lost any meaning at all. It had become quite apparent to me that I could not be both a creative dreamer and a "solid citizen," a Phantasiemensch and a Burger, as the Germans would put it.

I am but a gifted misfit. My life has long been restive and discontented. I am unable to bear a comfortable, established mode of existence for any period of time. My life is grim and I live in endless mental agony.

I live the life of a romantic vagabond, forever exhausted and distraught in my quest for solitude. Before life can ever become meaningful for me, I must find and come to terms with myself. I am forever taking painful stock of myself and devote myself assiduously to solitary pleasures. I live like a hermit in my emotional and financial poverty and for years now, I have rarely left my apartment for more than routine outings.

In 1993 I began a writing that was to occupy me for the next ten years. That writing would be my autobiography, “Significant Moments.” The writing reflected my relentless quest for my self, and it assumed a fresh impetus and a new stylistic direction from my restless spirit during those years. I became an uninhibited and exciting innovator. The autobiography was really a tense psychological study and reflected the intoxicating emotional release of a Buddha-like search for the basic unity and meaningfulness of life. I am sure if it were ever to be published it would be greeted with a curious mixture of awe, bewilderment, antagonism, and disgust. My own uninhibited self-exposure would no doubt trouble even the staunchest of my supporters. I must remind you, my friend, that my new literary venture was not an irresponsible deviation but a necessary culmination in my self-quest. It has always been my belief that repressions had to be exposed, even at the price of unpleasant notoriety.

The letters I have written to you, my friend, are actually an article of faith and not a document of despair. Yes, I wallow in despair but I live in faith, a faith in the ultimate meaningfulness of life. For me, life has never become the perplexing absurdity it was for Franz Kafka or the Sisyphean monotonous senselessness it was to become for Albert Camus. As I like to say, there is always tomorrow.

I am oppressed by my personal life, but also by the times we live in. Our era is for me one of moral depravity and intellectual mediocrity; of surface glitter, smug comfort, sham conventionality, and foolish optimism. Man has lost his soul in the world of money, machines and distrust. He has exchanged his spiritual peace for physical comfort. All vital rapport with God and nature has been lost, reason has supplanted faith and society has forgotten the individual. I’m starting to sound like His Holiness, the late Pope John Paul II!

But the fact remains that the middle-class core of our civilization has never ceased to be the butt of my ire. The bourgeois represents all that is negative. A stalwart and stodgy nonentity, he is governed in all his ideals and pursuits solely by the impulse of self- preservation. He fears individualism, and deliberately sacrifices the precarious but precious intensities of life for comfort and security. He is the characterless Philistine who epitomizes mediocrity, cowardice, compromise, irresponsibility, and servility. He is the strapping, insensitive, physical specimen who enjoys health and wealth but lacks all culture. He has a sound appetite but no taste, a good deal of confidence but no ideals. He possess a surfeit of zeal and diligence but has no lofty aspirations or worthy goals. It is to him that the world belongs, while persons like me -- the sensitive worshippers of beauty and the earnest seekers after truth and the meaning of life -- are misfits and outcasts.

Every day for me is an effort. A seemingly senseless effort to survive. So much of my day is marked more by strained effort than by spontaneity, more by futile persistence than by passion, and more by recollection than by new horizons. I relive the past day-by-day.

There has always been a very close relationship between the circumstances of my life and my artistic aspirations. Each represents a different stage in my struggle with myself and with life at large, and each reflects a correspondingly different phase in both the substance and the form of my art. My writings are replete with uncertainty and vague presentiment. I live as a sensitive outsider who cannot cope directly with my particular problem of existence. I resort instead to fantasy and withdraw into the realm of beauty there to indulge in the extremes of late esthetic gratification. My world is one of perfumed melancholy. It is characterized by exclamatory remarks and rhetorical questions, by sensuous adjectives and adverbs in languid cadence.

The form of my autobiography is loose: a random succession of vignettes and dramatic monologues, held together primarily by their common spirit of decadent romanticism. A Hoffmanesque fusion of fantasy and reality, which is both cynical and morbidly intimate. You, no doubt, would call it the work of a talented beginner whose world of experience is still too limited, and whose imagination is entranced by the facile flow of beautiful language. In the absence of discipline and restraint, I fear that the whole is sacrificed to the part, and what is meant to be art fails to become more than picturesque patter.

In the last year, in my extreme isolation, my writing has become more human and less shadowy; inertia and desperation yield to movement and humor. My prose has achieved a more narrative style, and my language has become leaner, crisper and more forceful.

And yet, despite the emotional gratifications of my splendid isolation in the past year, I was forced to face the overwhelming accumulation of tensions. I was compelled to realize that in my desire to make existence less painful I had been avoiding a close look at the true nature of my inner discord, and had blindsided myself to the morally and spiritually impoverished world around me. In my imagination I left the comfortable fold of the bourgeois world, which had never afforded me the security I had hoped it might, and accepted the more difficult existence of an outsider. Did I have a choice in the matter, my friend? In a desperate and determined effort to find myself, I began systematically to diagnose my inner conflicts, to go my long-shunned inward path. Only now did I finally come to grips with the intrinsic problems of human existence -- and of my place in the human world.

In my isolation escape became quest, and in quest my inner problems resolved themselves into the basic malaise humain, into the tension between the spiritual and the physical. For the past year I oscillated between these poles, acclaiming first one, then the other, then neither. I never ceased hoping for a harmonious accord, though well aware that for me this was impossible. I acclaim spirit, stressing self-knowledge and self realization with a Nietzschean emphasis upon the superior being. But spirit as a guiding principle of life can only mean greater individuation and more painful isolation. I still lack the firm conviction and the inner fortitude necessary to endure these consequences. The immediate reaction has been as extreme as the initial impulse. My assertive Nietzschean activism has yielded suddenly to a Schopenhauer-like passivity, a restless quest to a quietistic acceptance, and self-realization to a yearning for self-obliteration.

In the sober tone of acceptance which is evident in the present letter, I realize that despite all efforts to the contrary, my existence will probably continue as a restless tension, a constant oscillation between life's opposing poles.

My path to myself has reached its climax in a fascinating confusion of symbol and irony, fantasy and realism.

It is only now that I at last have found the peace of sincere self-affirmation and life affirmation. The individual must take and continue along that path which the predominant aspect of his nature impels him to choose. Each, whether given to the senses or to the spirit, must be prepared to suffer the lot of his kind; to attempt in curiosity or desperation to do otherwise is to foster a perpetual dissension of the divided self.

My center is the individual, opposed to society, its mores, and its institutions. And that individual is myself. I recall, nostalgically, the simpler years of childhood. I re-experience youth with its excruciating years of awakening. I think about modern man, the intellectual and the artist in particular, within the framework of a declining culture.

It is in this, its intimately egocentric nature, that my artistic temperament bears the stamp of its age, an age of cultural decline, of spiritual and moral distress, and of extreme loneliness.

I am predominantly an esthete who lives only in dreams, hopes, and anticipation, and who shrinks before realization. I am a self-preoccupied, temperamental artist who vainly seeks a kindred soul. I am paralyzed by chronic indecision and indulge in romantic morbidity. I am an outsider consumed by my own hopelessness and loneliness -- a misfit, to whom the art of life and the art of love are foreign, a timid soul who asks too little of life and expects too much of it. I live in perpetual frustration and disillusionment.

This is what the past year has taught me about myself. The past twelve months that I spent in exile from the library were not wasted months. I learned many things about myself and in these letters I have tried to memorialize my discoveries and share them with you, my friend.

Check you out next week, buddy.

Monday, April 11, 2005

The Confessions of a Psychoanalyst


Hey, buddy. I haven't seen you in some time. That may change. I'm thinking more and more along the lines of returning to the Cleveland Park Library on the one-year anniversary of "The Catastrophe," that is, the ban you imposed last April 21. I think that would be fitting and proper. I talked to my psychologist, Dr. Bash, about returning as a patron to CPK, and she raised no objections. In fact, for some time, she had been suggesting that I return to my neighborhood library.

I'm taking a new antipsychotic medication, Geodon. It's great. The old antipsychotic I was on, Zyprexa, was a disaster. It had somnolent properties and it raised my serum lipid levels. It also caused weight gain. My cholesterol was off the charts, at 296. My triglycerides were 90 points too high, also. (Of course, I was also eating a lot of yogurt. But it was nonfat.) As I mentioned last week, I was sleeping about 14 hours per day on the Zyprexa. Do you see why I wasn't taking my medication last year? It's really a form of cruel and unusual chemical therapy, so to speak.
But the Geodon is a great med. It does everything Zyprexa does therapeutically, but with none of the side effects. You may wonder why a doctor would prescribe Zyprexa. Well, for one thing, some people can't take Geodon. It's contraindicated for people with heart disease. People with Q-wave problems, and so forth. You know, the sinus node and all that. I guess President Clinton would have to stick to Zyprexa if he were to develop delusions about a vast right-wing conspiracy.

I feel like I've got my groove back. I'm able to work out at almost my old level. Also, I've been considering getting a part-time job to supplement my scam operation on Social Security. Would you believe it? Social Security actually buys that crap that I'm mentally disturbed. Now, really. Just because I have no social life, I believe I'm under surveillance, and I believe I have special mental powers -- like the ability to pick up and interpret social cues that other people can't see.
I saw William at the CVS on Saturday. "Gary!" he called out to me. It's Mr. Freedman to him, by the way. (Not that I have anything against William. At least I don't have any more of a grudge against William than I have against any other DC employee. But that's an entirely different suburb.) I just have a problem with too much familiarity. People lose respect for you when you get too friendly. At least that was President Nixon's belief. (Richard Nixon was apparently oblivious to the possibility that paying no federal income taxes or obstructing justice might impair a public official's ability to garner respect. But he was concerned about the consequences of too much familarity. And they say I have mental problems!)

Tell William that he may address me as Der Freedman (as Craig the Embalmer used to do). Or he may address me as Mr. President. But watch the "Gary" crap. I don't want to lose respect with the masses. William asked me if I was taking any day trips. Yea. Right. I take day trips through my own inner fantasy world. It's great. No frequent flyer miles, but you don't have to take your shoes off at the airports. At least I don't. Actually, I didn't tell William that. I told him I was just hanging out. (I wish I had a buddy to hang out with. A real buddy, that is.) Of course, I did take a day trip last October to the psych ward of DC General, courtesy of the Metro DC Police. And wasn't that a dream come true?

I told William I was on a sabbatical from the library. He said, "I know." I guess he would know. How could he not know?

Be that as it may.

I have another archival document for you to peruse. What you historians call a "primary source document." Back in the year 1991 I saw Dr. Lawrence C. Sack, a psychiatrist/psychoanalyst, for treatment. Dr. Sack was a really great guy -- and supersmart. He had a bachelors degree as well as a medical degree from Harvard University. And he graduated first in his high school class. Really great guy. Unfortunately, he died in 2003 (August 5 or August 6, I can't remember). I saw him three times in May 1991. (The first consult was on May 13, 1991. I remember that because it was the anniversary of Sigmund Freud's circumcision. The "bris," as Jerry Seinfeld would say.) At the conclusion of the first consult I asked Dr. Sack, seeking reassurance, "Do you think I'm psychotic?" Dr. Sack replied: "We're all psychotic when we dream." That hardly put my mind at ease.

An odd detail: Dr. Sack used to take his shoes off during consultations. It reminded me of the story of Moses and the Burning Bush, when Moses was instructed to take his shoes off. "Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." An odd association, don't you think? Dr. Sack had a portrait of Sigmund Freud on a wall in his office. Freud's image glowered down on me during the sessions, adding a touch of solemnity to the proceedings.

In any event, I had to quit the treatment because I believed Dr. Sack was talking to Malcolm and Earl. Though that, in reality, was a rationalization. I had to quit because I liked Dr. Sack too much. I can only sustain a relationship with people about whom I have strong ambivalent feelings. Dr. Palombo -- now, Dr. Palombo I loved, but I also despised him. It was a real love/hate relationship. That's familiar and safe mental territory for me. Craig the Embalmer was another person who I both loved and hated. My investment in Bob Strauss is also ambivalent.
And, of course, there's you, buddy. Though I can't say I love you. It's more like a "like/hate" relationship I have with you. Der Raben -- well, Der Raben I really didn't know that well. But from what I could gather he wasn't a really hatable kind of guy. I don't think Der Raben and I could ever be good friends. There just wasn't the correct "love/hate valence." Better friendships through chemistry, as they say.

Same thing with Dr. Sack. You couldn't hate the guy. So, I quit my therapy after only three sessions. I used the excuse that I thought he was talking to Malcolm and Earl -- it was as if I had to invent a grievance against Dr. Sack.

So, the basic story is I can only befriend people who I both love and hate. -- And Social Security thinks I'm mentally unbalanced. Go figure!

In any event, Dr. Sack's son, Robert Sack, MD -- also a psychiatrist -- was kind enough to let me have a copy of his father's clinical notes of my three consults with his father. I typed them up, so you can see what a seasoned analyst had to say about me. The document really just confirms what I've already written about. But I thought you'd be interested.

The Autobiography of Lawrence Carlton Sack


A troublesome -- aren't they all? -- new patient, thirty-seven years old, raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father had a typical petty bourgeois Jewish Orthodox background. The patient's mother was a Polish-Catholic. He is highly intelligent, a compulsive talker, extremely narcissistic and exhibitionistic. He hides his intellectual arrogance behind ironic self-deprecation. He cannot stop his diarrhea of talk, because it is his way of denying his essential constipation -- his total inability to give of himself. His working for a large, prestigious law firm in the capacity of a paralegal (the patient trained as a lawyer) is not only a denial of his own failure to assume responsibilities, but reflects his inner feeling of guilt that only in a state of misery can he find a perverse fulfillment in life.

He gave me no chance to explain what psychoanalysis is all about, claimed to be very familiar with it, and proceeded to show that he lacks even the slightest understanding. He seems to think psychoanalysis is a self-serving rattling off of complaints and accusations leveled at others and oneself, instead of recognizing the serious introspection and contemplation it ought to evoke. He is capable of neither of the latter, because he feels he is so worthless that he cannot be serious about anything that touches him -- not his own self, nor his family, nor those he works with.
He wants to do everything himself without any relation to, or contribution by, another person, in a typical masturbatory phallic fixation. He permits no one, including me, to make any contributions to his life. Obviously, he has spent years at his self-justifying ruminations, where even his self-criticism is meant only to show how shrewd and honest he is about himself. Mainly the self-criticism serves to let him go on exactly as before without internalizing his guilt to the degree that he would need to do something about it; it serves him to avoid any need to change. He is convinced that to rattle off in this way becomes psychoanalysis when he does it aloud with me listening.

Despite his long account of all that went wrong in his life beginning with infancy (!), there is absolutely no realization of his sickness -- his complete inability to relate to another person. How can he, when all he sees of the world is his own projections, which he is certain are true pictures of reality?

He sees psychoanalysis as one vast catharsis, without the need for any deeper insight or internalization. Everything is just one huge ejaculation. I doubt if he can establish even the minimal transference that would enable him to analyze. Probably his selecting me for an analyst typifies his unwillingness to give up his bondage to his Jewish past. I wonder if I should have insisted that he go to a gentile analyst. I may still have to transfer him to one.

In our brief talk before treatment began, I asked him why, given his feeling that his troubles originate, in part, with his identification with his father's Orthodox Jewish background, he selected me, as his analyst. He could not understand my point, saying that no gentile analyst could ever understand him. He speaks as if the issue were finding an analyst whose sympathy and understanding are endless, as were his parents' -- not his own coming to understand himself. His selection of me for an analyst suggests that deep down he does not want to transcend his own background, and so chose an analyst who will not alienate him from what he pretends to hate, but without which he feels there would be nothing left for him or his life. It remains to be seen whether we can overcome this handicap.

Since he thinks his need is to spill out, uninterruptedly, I shall let him, for a full week. Then we shall see if he can stop the spilling long enough for analysis to be possible.

He carries on as if to convince me that all the cliches of a spoiled Jewish boyhood are indeed valid: the overpowering, overindulgent, overprotective mother and the ineffectual father. Essentially the hour was one long alibi. I am to understand that if he cannot meet life, cannot relate to another human being, it's not how he construes things, but because of his parents and their background, along with two specific traumata.

He is a master of the alibi, and like the clever lawyer that he is, he plays both sides of the street. He blames his misery on both kinds of trauma: the physical (an injury to his oral cavity -- at age two-and-one-half!!) and the psychological (his mother's lack of empathy). He must be certain I will see him as the suffering victim, no matter what kind of theories I hold about physical or emotional trauma as causing behavior like his. Actually, it is not traumata, but only his disgust with himself, that forces him to defeat all those who love him (his parents, his potential friends, etc.).

The tirade against his parents, especially his mother, is uninterruptible. A few times I indicated the wish to say something, but he only talked on more furiously. His spiel was like a satire on the complaints of most of my patients, and on the tenets of psychoanalysis: a satire on the dominating and castrating father, and a mother too involved in herself and her own life to pay much attention to her son. This extremely intelligent young Jew (or half-Jew) does not recognize what he is trying to do -- by reversing the oedipal situation, he is trying to make fun of me as he does of everyone, thus asserting his superiority over me and psychoanalysis itself. His overpowering love for his mother is turned into a negative projection, so that what becomes overpowering is the mother's love for him. Overtly he complains that she would never let him alone, was all intrusive -- behind which lies an incredibly deep disappointment that she was not even more exclusively preoccupied with him. While consciously he experienced everything she did as destructive, behind this claim is an incredible wish for more, more, more. His is an insatiable orality which is denied and turned into the opposite by his continuous scream of its being much too much.

Even the most ordinary, everyday request from his mother, such as her reminding him to send a card on his father’s sixty-sixth birthday, is experienced by him as the most unreasonable demand, forcing on him a life of guilt and indebtedness to his parents. Whatever the mother did for him was always too little; the smallest thing she requested was always too much.

After listening all day to the endless complaints of patients about mothers who were never interested in whether they did or did not eat, whether or not they defecated, whether or not they succeeded in school, it should have been refreshing to listen to an hour of complaints about a mother who did exactly all that -- but it was not. It was so obvious that he felt cheated at not being given enough. No doubt he is tortured by memories of his past, and by his present inability to be a man and enjoy normal sex. But he certainly makes the most of it, and nowhere do I see any effort on his part to free himself of this bondage to the past. Obviously be expects my magic and that of psychoanalysis to do this for him.

An important clue, to be followed up later: he is fascinated by his father's constipation, which is so stark a contrast with his excessive masturbation and incessant, diarrhea-like talk. This seem like an interesting fixation at the phallic level, as though the father's constipation has made him so anxious about his own ability to produce that to compensate, he produces without interruption -- whether by masturbating, talking, writing letters, or intellectual productions and achievements. If he does not learn to hold in and store, but continues this indiscriminate discharge, analysis will certainly fail.

If I were to give a name to this patient after this first hour, I would call him "The most unforgettable character I've met." This is not because the patient thinks this designation is true of his mother, as he sees her (as is so of everyone and his mother) but because, while he wishes to believe the foregoing, his major effort is to impress me with himself as "the most unforgettable character I've ever met." Poor soul. Instead of trying to get from me the help he so desperately needs, he tries to impress me with his uniqueness. Everything he accuses his mother of, he is himself, in the extreme. She exploited him because she loved him so much. He exploits everyone because he loves no one.


Despite the same incessant stream of talk little new material. Speculations arrived at by the end of the last hour seem borne out today. As a child, he masturbated, preferably on the toilet, in line with his father's constipation which emerges ever more as a central experience leading to a negative identification. The father cannot let go. The son cannot hold anything in, or hold onto anyone. The father, out of incessant fear for the future, chose and stuck to his job in a garment factory. This influence is internalized by the son as fear about his masculinity. For this he finds only one defense: the excessive masturbation which seems to prove his body is working, but at the price of self-disgust. Because this patient wants not a penis that gives pleasure, but an instrument that expels its contents; he feels a self-assurance which his masturbation cannot give him.

Otherwise it was a repetition of the first hour's contents. In the deliberately vulgar language of the patient, I would entitle this session "Whacking Off." He uses much obscenity to impress others and fools himself into thinking he is liberated, while actually he is expressing his loathing for himself.


It becomes increasingly clear that this patient has read too much about psychoanalysis while understanding nothing -- for example about castration anxiety. What he does not see is how desperately he wishes he had a castrating father, and how deeply disappointed he is because what he encounters instead is only what he experiences as a castrating mother. But even as he complains of how castrating she is, he cannot help admiring her inner strength, which alone seems to sustain the entire family. One gets the feeling that he has to see her as castrating, because he needs to see her as being strong enough to protect him. It becomes also more clear that his true sickness is the refusal to recognize his parents' deep love for him, because that would mean the obligation to love them back, and later, other human beings. Instead, he clings to his vision of all human relations as exploitative power platys. All this gives my patient the particular "Jewish Blues" that formed the leitmotif of this session.

[Following this session, the patient terminated the analysis. The patient’s paranoid fears about revealing himself were transformed into the fear that I was disclosing the contents of his sessions to his employer. LCS]

In fact, Brian, the above material is drawn from “Portnoy Psychoanalyzed,” by Bruno Bettelheim. Bettelheim wrote the tongue-in-cheek analysis of “Portnoy’s Complaint” (by Philip Roth) in 1969. The paper was first published in Midstream Magazine and later reprinted in “Surviving and Other Essays.”

Check you out next week, buddy. By the way, have you taken up gargling. Has the little lady ever discovered you gargling in the bathroom?