I originally published the following post on January 12, 2010, but it merits reexamination at this time.
People have been coming up to me on the street. They have been asking me, demanding to know -- What is this thing called the "repetition compulsion?" How does it work? How do you explain the uncanny things that have happened in your life?
Actually the work of the psychoanalyst Melanie Klein is instructive. Klein's work explains how some people have a knack for getting other people to be actors in their own inner world of fantasy. It's not simple manipulation. I do not consciously manipulate people. I certainly didn't manipulate the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld to terminate me and defame me as potentially violent and mentally disturbed. I was an outstanding employee. Everything I consciously did was calculated to keep me employed and even earn me a job promotion. Another example: how could I have anticipated -- how could any reasonable person have anticipated -- that writing highly laudatory comments about a federal official would get him in hot water with federal law enforcement?
And yet in some strange way, the termination gratified my unconscious sense of guilt and need for punishment. Melanie Klein would say: "Mr. Freedman, it was your unconscious wish that you be terminated and defamed. You got Dennis M. Race, Esq. to do your bidding. The termination and defamation gratified your unconscious fantasy. That's what we psychoanalysts call the Death Drive." See Sigmund Freud, Beyong The Pleasure Principle.
Here's what Jay R. Greenberg and Stephen A. Mitchell have written: "Early internal objects of a harsh and phantastic nature are constantly being projected onto the outside world. Perceptions of real objects in the external world blend with the projected images. In subsequent reinternalization the resulting internal objects are partially transformed by the perceptions of real objects. Klein suggests that the early establishment of harsh superego figures actually stimulates object relations in the real world, as the child seeks out allies and sources of reassurance which in turn transform his internal objects. This process is also the basis for the repetition compulsion, which involves a constant attempt to establish external danger situations to represent internal anxieties. To the extent to which one can perceive discrepancies between internally derived anticipations and reality, to allow something new to happen, the internal world is transformed accordingly, and the cycle of projection and introjection has a positive, progressive direction. To the extent to which one finds confirmation in reality for internally derived anticipations, or is able to induce others to play the anticipated roles, the bad internal objects are reinforced, and the cycle has a negative, regressive direction." Object Relations in Psychoanalytic Theory at 132 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1983).
Otto Kernberg, M.D. (Cornell University Medical Center) is an expert in the work of Melanie Klein. Dr. Kernberg's mentor, Ernst Ticho, Ph.D., was married to Gertrude R. Ticho, M.D., who, according to Dennis M. Race, Esq. determined that I was deluded and potentially violent. Now that is an example of The Uncanny; I'm sure Dr. Kernberg would agree!