Thursday, February 25, 2010

Social Security Document Submission: June 1993

Pages 30-33 of Social Security Document Submission

Transmittal for Mrs. Edward Jacobson c/o Mr. Edward Jacobson

Dear Stell,

Here’s some more on the issue of why people respond to me the way they do. I recently had a small insight that may contribute to an understanding of why Akin Gump management responds to me as they do. Maybe you could tell me what you think of this.

In one of my early sessions with Dr. Palombo I confronted him with the accusation that he was in communication with my employer. He put me on the defensive by asking me why I was not practicing law. His questioning of me on this issue was uncharacteristic of a psychoanalyst and was, in fact, not characteristic of my work with him generally. He said, “I’ll tell you what happened. When you graduated from law school you got scared.” 1/

I also confronted Dr. Brown with the accusation that he was in communication with my employer. He, too, asked me why I was not practicing law. His response resembled that of Dr. Palombo, but his questioning was even more pointed. (In a telling display of body language, Dr. Brown took off his glasses to explain at length that he was not communicating with my employer. On only one other occasion in my 20 sessions with Dr. Brown did he take his glasses off--once again it was to assert and explain that he had had no contacts with my employer. He literally couldn’t “look me straight in the eye” to tell me he was not in communication with Akin Gump management.)

I had the impression that Akin Gump management had coached both Dr. Palombo and Dr. Brown on what to say should I complain that they were communicating with my employer. In Dr. Palombo’s case, he seemed to step out of his psychoanalytic persona in dealing with the issue. In Dr. Brown’s case, I was struck by the similarity in his response to that of Dr. Palombo. Dr. Brown took on the role of an attorney cross examining a witness on the issue of why I was not practicing law. When I told Dr. Brown that his response to my accusation was peculiarly similar to Dr. Palombo’s response, he said that it was just a natural response to my accusation. (In fact, when I confronted Dr. Sack with the very same accusation, his response was totally different, and consciously psychoanalytical. Dr. Sack said, “If you believe that I am in communication with your employer, you see how easy it is for you not to tell me certain things.” Dr. Sack thus linked my belief in his communications with my employer with the resistance, thereby staying within the psychoanalytical framework. Dr. Sack’s response evidenced a degree of psychological sophistication inconsistent with his having been coached by Akin Gimp management on this issue. Dr. Palombo and Dr. Brown, however, linked my belief in the communications with my employer to my not practicing law, thereby putting me on the defensive--as one might expect an attorney to do--but also implicitly, and unintentionally, linking my belief to a problem of ego development (a point that is explained in the material that follows).

In terms of content, my accusation of forbidden communications has absolutely nothing to do with the issue of my not practicing law. It can be shown, however, that at a certain psychological level--at the level of psychological dynamics--these dissimilar issues really involve one and the same issue. If one assumes that it was Akin Gump management that coached both Dr. Palombo and Dr. Brown to respond as they did, then a clarification as to the meaning of the response contributes in some small way to an understanding of Akin Gump management’s psychological relation to me (although I have no idea what the following insight contributes).

I. Issue of not practicing law: This can be analyzed in two opposing ways. Some would say I’m afraid to get out into the real world, that I’m chicken. As my co-workers at Akin Gump would say, “It’s a man’s world out there and he’s just not all man.” 2/ This viewpoint asserts some fear of an external danger, a fear of an external object. A contrary view holds that mine is a problem of guilt: a paralysis resulting from internal sources. These two viewpoints as to why I am not practicing law boils down to a conflict as to whether my problem is one of fear of external danger or one of internal inhibition--a problem of external versus internal.

II. Issue of mental health professionals’ forbidden communication with employer: This can be analyzed in two opposing ways. Some would say that my belief is an idea of reference: that my belief in some way gratifies the pleasure ego and that it has no basis in reality. An opposing view holds that my belief is based on my perception of certain verbal and other cues from the environment. These two viewpoints boil down to a conflict as to whether my belief is an internally-determined idea of reference that gratifies the pleasure ego or a realistic conclusion that satisfies the reality ego’s criteria for testing reality. Once again, a problem of internal versus external.

In effect, when I accused Dr. Palombo and Dr. Brown of communicating with my employer I was saying that the issue was external; they, in turn, denied this and said the problem was internal. Dr. Palombo and Dr. Brown (really Akin Gump management) then responded with a question of their own that implicitly raised the internal/external issue: “Why are you not practicing law?” As to the meaning of this response (what light it sheds on Akin Gump management’s relation to me), I can only say, as Freud would say, “This is something about which one would like to know more.” Unfortunately I have no idea what this response means. Perhaps a psychoanalyst would know.

The external/internal distinction, whether it concerns (1) high reality testing ability versus ideas of reference or (2) fear of external danger versus guilt, is really an issue of ego development. 3/ 4/ Both Dr. Brown and Dr. Palombo (really Akin Gump management), in responding to my accusation with their own question as to why I was not practicing law (both the accusation and the response raising the internal/external issue), thereby kept the focus of the exchange at the level of an inquiry into the degree of my ego development. As noted above, however, Dr. Sack, in effect, shifted the focus. He related my accusation (which raised the internal/external distinction) to the resistance. What is the significance, if any, that Dr. Sack’s response differed from the response of Dr. Palombo and Dr. Brown? Once again, an issue about which one would like to know more.


1/ A recurring theme in my relations with Akin Gump employees was the issue of fear. In about August 1989 a legal assistant said to me: “We’re all afraid of you. We’re all afraid you’re going to buy a gun, bring it in and shoot everybody.” On October 29, 1991, Mr. Dennis Race--the chairman of the firm’s hiring committee--told me that the firm’s legal assistant administrator and legal assistant coordinator could not work with me, that they were “afraid” of me.

2/ Paradoxically, this statement was made by the same legal assistant who said, “We’re all afraid of you. We’re all afraid you’re going to buy a gun, bring it in and shoot everybody.” See footnote 1.

3/ Note that it is psychoanalytically consistent, though not axiomatic, than an individual who suffers from intense guilt -- really an overweening superego -- may tend to have unusually high reality testing ability, and, conversely, a person suffering from an uninternalized fear of harm would tend to have low reality testing potential. In other words, a person who is not fulfilling his potential because of guilt might tend to possess the psychological means to discern whether his employer were communicating with his mental health professional. Conversely, a person who was not fulfilling his potential because “he got scared” would tend not to have the psychological means to know of such communications.

4/ The origins of both impulse control mechanisms and reality testing ability have been traced to a single source -- oral, instinctual impulses. Melanie Klein believed that oral frustration contributes to the development of impulse control mechanisms; abnormally intense oral frustration may contribute to the development of a pathological guilt mechanism. Similarly, Freud traced the development of reality testing to the oral stage:

"The function of judgment is concerned with two sorts of decision. It may assert or deny that a thing has a particular property; or it may affirm or dispute that a particular image or presentation exist in reality. Originally the property to be decided about might be either good or bad, useful or harmful. Expressed in the language of the oldest, that is, of the oral, instinctual impulses, the alternative runs thus: 'I should like to eat that, or I should like to spit it out'; or, carried a stage further: 'I should like to take this into me and keep that out of me.' That is to say: it is to be either inside me or outside make. . . . [The original pleasure-ego tried to introject into itself everything that is good and to reject from itself everything that is bad. From its point of view what is bad, what is alien to the other ego, and what is external are, to begin with, identical. The other sort of decision made by the function of judgment, namely, as to the real existence of something imagined, is a concern of the final reality-ego, which develops out of the previous pleasure-ego (a concern, that is, of the faculty that tests the reality of things)." Freud, S. (1925) “Negation.” In: A General Selection from the Works of Sigmund Freud, at 55-56, Rickman, J., ed. (Anchor Books: 1989).

One wonders what effect early oral frustration, or oral traumatization, might have on the development of hypernormal reality testing ability. One might logically speculate that intense oral frustration may serve as a body-ego prototype of an unusual capacity of the final reality-ego to defer judgment, an important aspect of reality testing (and creativity). One might also logically speculate that early oral traumatization (or early oral masochism) may contribute to the development of an ability of the final reality-ego to hold ideas that are in no way pleasurable--ideas that are held simply because they are real, or bitter truths.

1 comment:

Gary Freedman said...

June 14, 1993
3801 Connecticut Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20008

Paul G. Yessler, MD
2501 Calvert Street, NW
Suite 101
Washington, DC 20008

RE: Social Security Disability Psychiatric Evaluation

Dear Dr. Yessler:

Enclosed with respect to the above-referenced matter is a collection of letters I wrote and sent (by mail or fax) to my sister after my job termination on October 29, 1991 and before the filing of a disability claim with the Social Security Administration. Most of the letters were in fact written and sent in the year 1992.

I wrote the letters under the influence of my belief that my sister was in communication with my former employer, Akin Gump, and that my sister, upon receipt of the letters, would transmit the letters by fax communication back to managers of Akin Gump.

Both the writing and sending of the letters together with the content of the letters establish the persistence of seemingly paranoid ideation throughout the period beginning October 29, 1991. The letters deal, among other issues, with my concerns regarding harassment by Akin Gump co-workers; harassing (and anti-Semitic) telephone calls I received during 1991 and 1992; my belief that various of my treating psychiatrists were in communication with my former employer; the belief that librarians at the Cleveland Park Public Library (referred to as "the Club") harassed me; my belief that a clerk at a Giant Supermarket in my neighborhood (Adam) harassed me concerning my friendship with Craig Dye; my belief that a specialist at the Brookings Institution (Stephen Hess) was in communication with my former employer; the belief that it was not a mere accident that my former supervisor, Christine Robertson, had me touch her breasts, etc.

Please forward these materials to:

Ms. Fay Peterson
District of Columbia
Rehabilitation Services Administration
Disability Determination Division
P.O. Box 37608
Washington, DC 20013

If you have any questions, you may contact me at (xxx) xxx-xxxx (or leave messages at xxx xxx-xxxx). Might I suggest a follow-up evaluation consult?

You may contact my sister, Mrs. Estelle Jacobson, at (609) 727-3295.

Thank you very much.

Sincerely ,

Gary Freedman

The above cover letter transmitted a document production of approximately 185 pages. The document production is presumably on file at the Social Security Administration. The produced documents were presumably a significant factor in Social Security's disability determination of August 1993.