Pages 69-72 of Social Security Document Submission
FAX NO. 609 235 5569 MEREDITH FINANCIAL SERVICES
transmittal for Mrs. Estelle Jacobson c/o Mr. Edward Jacobson
About three years ago you said that I needed to find out why people react to me the way they do: what it is that I do that arouses such a negative reaction in people. I’m faxing this because I think you’ve waited long enough for an answer.
What I have done is to carry out a kind of psychological experiment, the results of which may contribute to an understanding of my problems with people, although I cannot say exactly what contribution the “experiment” makes.
Although my most obvious and difficult problems with people appear to be with my most recent co-workers, and would appear to stem from a lack of social competence, I have had unusual interactions in the past outside a social context that may in some way be insidiously related to my peer difficulties. I thought that it might be useful to make a listing of unusual interactions with a specific class of persons who were not my peers and with whom my interactions would not be classified as “social interactions.” In this way, we will have isolated out confounding issues related to social competence that might not be at all material to an identification of the underlying problem, whatever that might be. By isolating out the social factors we may arrive at some notion of what causes my difficulties with people generally, whether the context of the interaction be social or otherwise. Appended to the “non-peer” anecdotes are “peer interaction issues.” These are anecdotes or observations involving peer interaction issues that seem in some way related to the non-peer interaction incidents. A comparison of the non-peer interaction incidents with possibly related peer interaction issues may provide a fuller understanding of my difficulties with people generally.
Each of the following incidents involves one class of persons--teachers. Listed are six unusual interactions I have had in non-social settings with teachers. The term “teacher” is used very broadly to include individuals who have at some time been teachers, but with whom I did not necessarily have a student-teacher relationship (including Tom Jennings and Dr. Gail Miller, for example). Note that Dr. Palombo, too, was a teacher--a professor of medicine. Thus, this material may also contribute to an understanding of aspects of the counter-transference (both positive and negative) that Dr. Palombo may not have been aware of.
1. In high school, in the ninth grade (age 13) I was given private violin lessons by the instrumental teacher, Mr. Sidney Rothstein. I was probably the weakest player in the orchestra--a very poor violin student On one occasion, during the course of one of the private violin instruction sessions, Rothstein held a lit cigarette next to my wrist in an attempt to prompt me to hold my wrist properly (note the aspect of sadism in the interaction. (I had a tendency not to keep my wrist curved in the proper position).
During an orchestra rehearsal we played the “Good Friday” music from Wagner’s Parsifal. Because we were rehearsing Wagner I played with unusual passion and enthusiasm. An official from the school district, possibly the director of instrumental music programs for the Philadelphia schools, was present. I noticed while playing the piece that this fellow was looking over at me, that I seemed to have caught his attention. After completing the piece, the official made a few comments praising our playing, and noted that he was especially impressed with the playing of the second violins (of which I was one). I had the impression at that time that his comment was directed to me in particular.
I vaguely recall that we never performed that piece before an audience, and indeed I don’t think we ever rehearsed the piece again--peculiar in view of the praise that our playing of the piece had earned (possible instance of sadistic thwarting by Rothstein).
It is perhaps relevant to note that Sidney Rothstein was an outstanding musician; he had been a student of Pierre Monteux, winner of a national (or international?) conducting competition, and was offered the post of director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
PEER INTERACTION ISSUES: Compare Rothstein’s sadism in relation to me with what some might term Craig’s sadistic thwarting behaviors in relation to me. Note that both Rothstein and Craig are both highly gifted individuals. One wonders also whether unconscious sadistic thwarting plays a role in Akin Gump management’s relations with me: unconscious thwarting that the firm’s managers rationalize with the statement, “But a law firm is a business. Our relations with Freedman are determined solely by the bottom line.” Note also the imputation to me of sadistic danger by co-workers: “We're all afraid of you. We’re all afraid you’re going to buy a gun, bring it in and shoot everyone.” (Communicated to me by Akin Gump legal assistant around August 1989).
2. In my senior year in college, during the winter term 1975, I took a course in religious studies taught by a Mrs. Carmody. During one class, shortly after we had had a mid-term exam, Mrs. Carmody broke the class up into small discussion groups. (The class was fairly large, but held in a classroom setting. Mrs. Carmody did not know the names of most of the students.) We had discussed Elie Wiesel’s book, Night, which concerned the author’s experiences as a youth in a Nazi concentration camp. I offered a few comments. At the conclusion of the class, Mrs. Carmody told me she wanted to speak with me. In private, she said, “How is it that someone who speaks as eloquently and thoughtfully as you could have flunked the exam?”
I looked at her quizzically, thinking, I don’t know how I did on the exam, but I don’t think I flunked it.” Apparently noticing my confusion, she asked who I was. When I identified myself, she said, “Oh, I’m so sorry, I had you confused with someone else. You didn’t flunk the exam. You wrote an excellent exam. I think you got an 'A’.” As a kind of penance, I suppose, she said, “Come to my office. I’ll get the exam paper for you.”
PEER INTERACTION ISSUES: Note the identity confusion. To Mrs. Carmody, I apparently looked like an idiot, despite the fact that I cannot recall giving her any reason to think I was. Compare Craig’s antithetical perceptions of me as, variously, an “airhead” and “warped genius” (March 1990). One might also note the criticism directed at me, “He brags about himself.” The incident with Mrs. Carmody, probably not unique in my experience, may explain why I may feel I need to brag. (Note the “fool-who-attains-wisdom” identity element, a central dramatic theme in the Wagner operas, particularly Parsifal [also Walther von Stolzing in Die Meistersinger and the character Siegfried]. The “fool-who-attains-wisdom” identity element typically is initially rejected by his culture mates as an idiot or ignorant outsider, but later gains acceptance after demonstrating a previously unexpressed gift or talent.)
3. In late December 1974, when I had just turned 21, Dr. Gail Miller, who worked at the Franklin Institute, said to me, “Knowing you, I can understand for the first time in my life how Jesus was a Jew. I’ve known many Jews in my life [Dr. Miller was then about 61 years old] and I have often wondered how Jesus could have been one of these people. Knowing you I can understand how.” This is a most unusual -- if not bizarre -- comparison, and suggests a kind of idealization.
Earlier in his career, Dr. Miller had been a professor of microbiology at Jefferson University (considered to be one of the finest medical schools in the country).
PEER INTERACTION ISSUE: In late July, 1987, Daniel Cutler, a co-worker at the law firm of Hogan & Hartson wrote the following note to me (The writing invites comparison with the idealization expressed by Miller in December 1974).
"For the first three months I worked with you I saw you probably a total of three hours. When I did see you some of the things you said made me feel uncomfortable. I don't 'understand' you. Yes, you are definitely an enigma.
Moreover, you are the subject of occasional conversation, like everyone else. I don't believe any of these behind the back conversations are malicious or intended to paint anyone in a 'hideous hue.' People talk and laugh about people and circumstances they don't understand or find unusual.
I think I understand one thing: you feel and see too much sometimes. Sensitivity and strong intellect when taken too far will tear your guts out. That's some free homespun bullshit but while lacking substance it still smells right.
However, your knowledge of this scenario exceeds mine. Personally, psychology depresses me because all summed together everyone consciously or unconsciously puts themselves into positions where they are unhappy, neglected, paranoid, degraded and on and on . . . And most of us lack the will to extricate ourselves from this state of being. We cling to that certain feeling because it is constant and predictable. These big brains we have demand it.
Anyway, rest assured that myths are exaggerated and distorted, including yours. Nevertheless, the dull Daniel or plain Jane rarely have myths written or spoken in their name."
4. In early 1982 I spoke with Tom Jennings in his office. He told me that I was the finest law clerk he had had since he began practicing law. He said, “Every other law clerk I have ever had has been nothing but an albatross around my neck; they’ve been nothing but a burden. Not only have you not been a burden, you have made a real contribution.” He said that my strength lay in my unusual tenacity and the single-minded energy that I applied to the solution of the legal problems he assigned to me; he said that he had never seen such tenaciousness before.
PEER INTERACTION ISSUE: Unusual tenacity, single-mindedness, and intensity may be experienced by others, in a social context, as inappropriate. Many persons may find such qualities disquieting.
5. In the fall of 1984, while enrolled in the LL.M. program at American University, I took a course in international trade taught by Mr. Patrick Macrory, at that time a partner with Arnold and Porter, and Ms. Jeannie Anderson, an attorney employed by the U.S. Department of Commerce. In about November 1984 students gave oral presentations on a previously-assigned international trade problem. I had solved the problem in somewhat unusual manner, relying on an obscure, though arguably applicable, statute. It was my perception that Mr. Macrory was perturbed by my presentation. After the presentation I asked a fellow student what she thought of my presentation and of Mr. Macrory’s reaction. The fellow student, also in the LL.M. program, was a practicing attorney in the international trade field. (I do not recall her name; she had a streak of white hair above her forehead.) The student (attorney) said, “You didn’t do anything wrong. It was him [Mr. Macrory]. He didn’t know what you were talking about. You made a fxxx out of him.” Mr. Patrick Macrory is a nationally recognized and highly respected practitioner in the international trade field, and is currently a partner at Akin Gump.
PEER INTERACTION ISSUE: Talking a different-and independent--slant on issues in a social context can make others
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