Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Social Security Document Submission: June 1993

Pages 103-104 of Social Security Document Submission

Dear Stell,

Do you remember last year during the Persian Gulf War that Bob Simon of CBS News was held hostage in Iraq after he was captured by the Iraqis as he and his colleagues were traveling along a highway in Iraq?

Suddenly a deafening shot was fired very close to him. . . . Three armed horsemen blocked his way. . . . “Don’t move, Comrade Doctor,“ said the cavalryman in the fur cap, who was the oldest of the three. “If you obey orders, we guarantee that you will not be harmed. If you don’t--no offense meant--we’ll shoot you.

But to look on inactively while the mortal struggle raged all around was impossible, it was beyond human strength. It was not a question of loyalty to the side that held him captive or of defending his own life, but of submitting to the order of events, to the laws governing what went on around him. To remain an outsider was against the rules. You had to do what everyone was doing. A battle was going on. He and his comrades were being shot at.
Dr. Zhivago. From the chapter preceding and the chapter following that titled “The Highway.”

Bob Simon loves the Wagner operas, and has had a life-long fascination with the composer’s life.

Based on the above material one could formulate an interesting hypothetical psychoanalytical problem (or scenario for a piece of psychoanalytic science fiction):

Assume that Bob Simon and four colleagues are captured, held hostage and brutalized by the Iraqis. Upon their release the five individuals see a psychiatrist to work through their traumatization. Let us assume that the capture of the four colleagues other than Simon was a mere happenstance, but that for Simon the capture satisfied his own synthetic functioning (i.e., a form of alloplastic adaptation in which the environment was placed in the service of the ego). Put another way, for Simon the capture is part of a mythical system, while, paradoxically, for his colleagues, who underwent the very same ordeal, the capture is not mythical. When each of the five former hostages narrate their ordeal to the psychiatrist, their reporting of the facts will be largely identical. Unbeknownst to the psychiatrist, however, Simon is different from the other hostages; for him the ordeal had a special psychological meaning. A problem in differential diagnosis arises here--one that the psychiatrist will not even be aware of. How will the psychiatrist distinguish between Simon and the other hostages, and what are the implication with regard to therapy?

Compare the following situation. A psychiatrist is treating five individuals, in their late thirties, who seem never to have made a successful transition to adult life. The individuals appear to suffer from a rather severe ego disturbance in that they seem barely functional. The level of functioning of these patients suggests severely impaired reality testing ability and impaired ego-strength. Unbeknownst to the psychiatrist, however, one of the patient's failures in life satisfy his need to fail. One could say that this patient’s ego-strength is in the service of the death drive--that his repeated failures satisfy the repetition compulsion. How would the psychiatrist even suspect this was the case, and how should his treatment of this one patient differ from his treatment of the remaining four?

(Dr. [Marjorie] Nemes loved Wagner [her son once bought her the complete Ring Cycle] and she loved Dr. Zhivago. Frightening, isn’t it?)

(Hans Sachs to the Masters: “Why is this knight different from all other knights?”

GF

[handwritten note:] 4/18/92

Pages 105-106 of Social Security Document Submission

[The above letter (written on April 18, 1992) as well as the one below (written July 27, 1992) are uncanny. In the interim period, between April and July 1992, I learned that Bob Simon had published a book about his experiences as a hostage during the Persian Gulf War. Simon obviously had a need to creatively transform his experiences in his book Forty Days. A psychoanalyst might ask: What experience was Simon transforming? Was he creatively transforming the recent events in Iraq or an unconscious template that had been formed since infancy and which was the basis of the “repetition compulsion,” indeed the basis of his capture. A psychoanalyst might ask whether Simon had a need to be captured and undergo the experience of being a hostage: a need that had remained hidden in his unconscious since childhood.

In my book Significant Moments I describe a job termination. A psychoanalyst might ask: What experience was I transforming? Was I creatively transforming my job termination by Akin Gump in October 1991 or an unconscious template that had been formed since infancy and which was the basis of the “repetition compulsion,” indeed the basis of my termination. A psychoanalyst might ask whether I had a need to be terminated from my job despite being an exemplary employee, and undergo the experience of having been wronged by my former employer.

It’s interesting that I had these thoughts during the summer of 1992, before I had learned that my former employer had defamed me in pleadings the firm had filed with the D.C. Department of Human Rights, on May 22, 1992.]

Dear Stell,

Update.
_______________________________________________

Do you remember last year during the Persian Gulf War that Bob Simon of CBS News was held hostage in Iraq after he was captured by the Iraqis as he and his colleagues were traveling along a highway in Iraq?

Suddenly a deafening shot was fired very close to him. . . . Three armed horsemen blocked his way. . . . “Don’t move, Comrade Doctor,“ said the cavalryman in the fur cap, who was the oldest of the three. “If you obey orders, we guarantee that you will not be harmed. If you don’t--no offense meant--we’ll shoot you.

But to look on inactively while the mortal struggle raged all around was impossible, it was beyond human strength. It was not a question of loyalty to the side that held him captive or of defending his own life, but of submitting to the order of events, to the laws governing what went on around him. To remain an outsider was against the rules. You had to do what everyone was doing. A battle was going on. He and his comrades were being shot at.
Dr. Zhivago. From the chapter preceding and the chapter following that titled “The Highway.”

Bob Simon loves the Wagner operas, and has had a life-long fascination with the composer’s life.

Based on the above material one could formulate an interesting hypothetical psychoanalytical problem (or scenario for a piece of psychoanalytic science fiction):

Assume that Bob Simon and four colleagues [actually, it was three colleagues] are captured, held hostage and brutalized by the Iraqis. Upon their release the five individuals see a psychiatrist to work through their traumatization. Let us assume that the capture of the four colleagues other than Simon was a mere happenstance, but that for Simon the capture satisfied his own synthetic functioning ["It was because of me that this was happening to them. It was a crazy Bob Simon escapade. Even if Peter had known better, he had never been able to say 'No.' Juan and Roberto had just faithfully tagged along." Simon, Bob Forty Days, at 47 (Putnam: 1992)] (i.e., a form of alloplastic adaptation in which the environment was placed in the service of the ego). Put another way, for Simon the capture is part of a mythical system, while, paradoxically, for his colleagues, who underwent the very same ordeal, the capture is not mythical. ["The weeks following our release, when there was little in my world beyond memories of Iraq, I felt I was beginning to understand the process of mythmaking. I could see how, when the need is great enough, a series of random events becomes infused with meaning; how, in retrospect, days which were ruled by coincidence and chaos become coherent stages in a voyage of discovery." Id., at 53. Simon fails to consider that the experience may have been mythical from the outset.] When each of the five former hostages narrate their ordeal to the psychiatrist, their reporting of the facts will be largely identical. Unbeknownst to the psychiatrist, however, Simon is different from the other hostages; for him the ordeal had a special psychological meaning. A problem in differential diagnosis arises here--one that the psychiatrist will not even be aware of. How will the psychiatrist distinguish between Simon and the other hostages, and what are the implication with regard to therapy?
_______________________________________________

Statements in Simon’s book indicate a split between the experiencing ego and the observing ego. See Shengold, L. Soul Murder (Yale 1990). For example, “I said I understood and would answer his questions. I was frightened, but a corner of my mind was doing a critique. We need a new scriptwriter, I thought. These lines are too hackneyed. If we have to go through all this, does it have to be so unremittingly grade B?” Simon, at 43. Again: “The movie sense came back. The men facing me were playing their parts as officers and interrogators. Their costumes were good, the accents just right. I was playing mine. We were all aware that these were just the opening scenes, and were anxious not to fluff our lines.” Simon, at 35.

Obviously, the ego split evidenced in these lines resulted from certain childhood experiences. These childhood experiences, resulting as they apparently did in a split between the experiencing and observing egos, prepared Simon psychologically for his captivity in Iraq. One might speculate that these same experiences in some way also determined Simon’s capture in Iraq (synthetic ego functioning? Repetition compulsion?).

GF

[handwritten note:] 7/27/92

[Note the connection between Vernon Jordan and CBS News:

http://connect.in.com/vernon-jordan/connections-279425-1.html]

3 comments:

Gary Freedman said...

The entire affair had been a lot of people performing a play . . .

Gilbert J. Rose, William Faulkner's Light in August: The Orchestration of Time In the Psychology of Artistic Style.

. . . an absurd . . .

Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus.

. . . play and now at last they had all played out the parts which had been allotted them.

Gilbert J. Rose, William Faulkner's Light in August: The Orchestration of Time In the Psychology of Artistic Style.

What's past is . . .

William Shakespeare, The Tempest.

. . . eternally present, and therefore . . .

Hermann Hesse, Magister Ludi: The Glass Bead Game.

. . . would seem to present material for an instructive prologue.

Lawrence J. Friedman, Identity's Architect: A Biography of Erik H. Erikson.

It was uncanny to observe how the persons drawn into the imbroglio were forced to pursue the acting out, almost as if they were . . .

K.R. Eissler, Talent and Genius.

. . . grotesques, moving puppetlike . . .

Robert W. Gutman, Richard Wagner: The Man, His Mind, and His Music.

. . . under the dominance of . . .

K.R. Eissler, Talent and Genius.

. . . an unseen Player who . . .

Gilbert J. Rose, William Faulkner's Light in August: The Orchestration of Time In the Psychology of Artistic Style.

. . . acted through them—

Steven R. Latham, System and Responsibility: Three Readings of the Institute of Medicine Report on Medical Error.

But in the end . . .

Henry James, The American.

. . . dear friends, . . .

William Shakespeare, Hamlet.

. . . you know well that life is full of infinite absurdities, which, strangely enough, do not even need to appear plausible, since they are true.

Luigi Pirandello, Six Characters in Search of an Author.

____________________________

Don't you just hate it when you get caught up in somebody else's repetition compulsion? When you are recruited to act a role in somebody else's play?

http://dailstrug.blogspot.com/2010/01/object-relations-inducing-others-to.html

Gary Freedman said...

The Influence of Joseph Sandler's Work on Contemporary Psychoanalysis

Author: Otto F. Kernberg, Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research

Published in: Psychoanalytic Inquiry, Volume 25, Issue 2 April 2005

This overview stresses Joseph Sandler's integration of classical ego psychology with contemporary object relations theory. As part of this integration, Sandler clarified the origins and internal structure of the superego as a consequence and development of the representational world. The representational world, in turn, derives from the internalization of significant self- and object representations in the context of affect activation as fundamental motivational factors. Sandler described the transformation of internalized object relations into an unconscious template, expressed in repetitive behavior patterns, and the reactivation of its constituent object relations in the transference. In differentiating the present and past unconscious in the transference, Sandler described the role responsiveness of the analyst in the psychoanalytic situation as a specific countertransference reaction that facilitates the analysis of the object relationships activated in the transference. Sandler also explored the relationship between affects and drives and the neuropsychological capacities represented by affective and cognitive developments that jointly determine the structural characteristics of the mental apparatus.

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
xxx-xx-xxxx

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.