Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Social Security Document Submission: June 1993

Pages 118-123 of Social Security Document Submission

[The following is a discussion of "Janusian" features of my self-analysis, "The Caliban Complex: An Attempt at Self-Analysis."  The term Janusian thinking refers to a process first discussed or discovered by the psychiatrist Albert Rothenberg, M.D.; it relates to a thought process of conceiving two polar opposite ideas simultaneously, and is prominent in creative individuals.  I had sent a copy of my self-analysis to Dr. Rothenberg in the year 1989; Dr. Rothenberg referred me to Stanley R. Palombo, M.D. in Washington, D.C. for treatment.  I saw Dr. Palombo in psychotherapy during the year 1990.]

Dear Stell,

I have been able to establish to a high degree of certainty that the description of my psychological difficulties contained in my self analysis ["The Caliban Complex: An Attempt at Self-Analysis"] is a correct and accurate description of my personality problems--that the essay is not simply an “ego production.” The analysis itself, by its very structure, serves as a proof of what it asserts. This is so since the analysis is not simply a narrative of presumed psychological difficulties; the analysis, at critical points, posits its assertions in the form of Janusian expressions.

Dr. Rothenberg writes, “the particular content of a Janusian thought is very likely highly related to conscious and unconscious emotional conflicts in the creator himself.” Rothenberg, Albert “Janusian Thinking and Creativity.” In The Psychoanalytic Study of Society 7: 1-30, at 19 (Yale University Press: 1976). In self-analysis the subject of the study--and the particular content of any Janusian formulations contained therein--is the creator himself. Self-analytical thoughts that are expressed in Janusian formulations are accurate descriptions of what they assert since, as Janusian thoughts, they are highly related to conscious and unconscious emotional conflicts in the creator himself.

The distinct psychological issues of guilt and identity can be synthesized into a metaphor or image that is itself Janusian, or an expression of simultaneous opposites.

1. A chameleon assumes the coloration of its surroundings. It can be any one of various shades of tan, yellow, brown, gray, or green, etc. Aside form the issue of survival value, it is of no importance to the chameleon what particular color he takes on. It is an involuntary and passive process. (The process can be likened to the identity diffusion found in the narcissistic personality, or the “as if “ personality described by Helene Deutsch, in which the individual mimics the personality characteristics of the individual or individuals with whom he interacts. Narcissism itself can be shown to be, in a certain context, a polar opposite of guilt. See paragraph 4.) But imagine a chameleon that has the psychological complexity of a human being: one that has certain superego injunctions. The chameleon’s superego dictates that to be a certain color, let us say tan, is good. If the chameleon assumes a tan coloration, its superego will reward it with feelings of wholeness and well-being. If the chameleon is any other color, the superego will punish the creature with feelings of worthlessness and guilt. The dilemma for the chameleon is that it cannot simply “will” its coloration. In order to enjoy feelings of well-being and wholeness, it must be tan, but, in order to be tan, it must seek out a tan environment. Where a tan environment is not readily available, it will necessarily assume some other coloration, resulting in pangs of worthlessness and guilt. (A further complexity may be added. Assume the existence of an anti-cathexis that militates against the chameleon taking on a tan coloration: an anti-cathexis the satisfaction of which afford its own perverse gratifications. That would be a real dilemma!). This metaphor is Janusian because (1) the chameleon, in seeking out tan environments, is engaging in an alloplastic adaptation (i.e., changing the environment to meet the needs of the organism; specifically, in this case, the chameleon is actively choosing the most suitable environment, which is a form of alloplastic adaptation), but at the same time (2) the chameleon, upon placing himself in the tan environment, is altering his identity by assuming a tan coloration thereby engaging in an autoplastic adaptation (he is changing himself to fit into his environment). This chameleon is engaging simultaneously in alloplastic and autoplastic adaptation. (Alloplasty and autoplasty are polar opposites, the simultaneous expression of which is Janusian).

2. Compare: “The subject seeks out objects whose ideals match those already existing in the prescriptive portion of his superego; his injured ego then introjects [takes on the coloration], by way of identification, the valued qualities of the object, thereby enriching the ego with those qualities, and, ultimately diminishing the tension, or disparity (guilt), between the ego and the ego ideal, and providing the ego with a bulwark against the claims of his conscience. By means of identification with certain others the subject obtains a general state of emotional well-being that is fundamentally grounded in diminution of guilt.”

[Compare Heinz Kohut's concept of the "selfobject:"

Selfobjects are external objects that function as part of the "self machinery." In other words, they are persons, objects or activities that "complete" the self, and which are necessary for normal functioning. Observing the patient's selfobject connections is a fundamental part of self-psychology. For instance, a person's particular habits, choice of education and work, taste in life partners, may fill a selfobject-function for that particular individual.

Selfobjects are addressed throughout Kohut's theory, and include everything from the transference phenomenon in therapy, relatives, and items (for instance Linus van Pelt's security blanket). If psychopathology is explained as an "incomplete" or "defect" self, then the self-objects can be described as a self-prescribed "cure".

As described by Kohut, the selfobject-function (ie. what the selfobject does for the self) is taken for granted and seems to take place in a "blindzone." The function thus usually does not become "visible" until the relation with the selfobject is somehow broken.

When a relationship is established with a new selfobject, the relationship connection can "lock in place" quite powerfully, and the pull of the connection may affect both self and selfobject. Powerful transference, for instance, is an example of this phenomenon.]

3. Compare:  A man suffers from a painful condition in his mouth, which makes eating anything but ice cream painful. His demands for ice cream, and only ice cream (one of the few foods he can eat without pain), in restaurants set him apart from other diners, leaving him a kind of gastronomic misfit. He avoids most restaurants, but seeks out ice-cream parlors. The ice cream acts as a palliative, deadening the pain in the mouth (an alteration of self), allowing him to eat in ice cream parlors with abandon, and even enjoy, on occasion, a pretzel or two. Now that’s a happy thought!

4. Compare:  An ailing exiled dictator, despondent over his fallen state, transforms himself into a gardener and transforms his barren retreat into a fertile garden. His health visibly improves. (Reich states that “. . . Napoleon and Mussolini belong to the phallic-narcissistic character type.” He also states: “In the phallic-narcissistic character, the transitions between the healthy, object-libidinal form on the one hand and the acutely pathological, pregenital forms of addiction [in alcoholism, for example, there is a regression to the oral position] and chronic depression on the other hand are far more numerous and diverse than they are in other character types.” Reich, W. (1945) Character Analysis, at 223 (Noonday Press/Farrar, Straus and Giroux: 1990)).

5. Compare: [Nietzsche's aphorism:] “One has to change to stay akin to me.” Refers to a (simultaneous) change in the self and the environment. (Reference to the “lost civilizations” of the Pacific on the “Preface” page [of my self analysis] can be interpreted as a reference to a regression from the phallic position. The reference to the Easter Island statues suggests the phallic position.)

6. Compare: Zionism -- the transformation of the former Palestine into the land of Israel and the simultaneous transformation of the Jew into the Israeli. (Once again, the image is of a return to a phallic stage after a period of regression to a pre-phallic stage.) [see the final paragraph of no. 9, below]




-shuns scapegoat

-claims scapegoat acted alone in perpetrating the deed which certainly each member of the group contemplated or ventured upon

-represents deed as evil

-represents selves as guilt-free

-pretense of moral strength

-projects blame onto scapegoat (GUILT) to expiate memory of harm or imagined harm

-deed is murder of primal father


-accepts blame

-possible oral fixation?; possible regression from phallic position? Cf. paragraph 4



-moves to free himself from group

-claims to have acted alone in accomplishing the deed, which certainly only the group as a whole would have ventured upon

-represents deed as good

-represents self as brave (pretense of strength)

-relates to group his hero’s deeds which he has invented (NARCISSISM) to expiate memory of harm or imagined harm

-deed is murder of primal father

-possible phallic fixation? (Note that a typical feature of the phallic type, according to Reich, is his potential transition, or regression, to the oral position. Cf. paragraph 4)


-identifies with HERO/ARTIST

In the SCAPEGOAT MYTH the focal interactional issue between group and scapegoat is guilt. In the HERO MYTH the focal interactional issue between the hero-artist and the group is narcissism. As polar opposites, guilt and narcissism are susceptible of simultaneous, defensive negation.

9. The following selected sentences from Hermann Hesse’s novel Narcissus and Goldmund touch upon the problems of anhedonia and identity loss/alteration of identity (from sensualist to ascetic intellectual), resulting from a withdrawal of emotional investment from the mother:

"But how was it possible that the awakening of sex met with such bitter antagonism in such a beautiful, healthy, flowering adolescent? There must have must be a secret enemy who had managed to split this magnificent human being within himself and turn against his natural urges. All that was alive and radiant in this young man spoke only too clearly: he bore all the marks of a strong human being, richly endowed sensually and spiritually, perhaps an artist, but at any rate a person with a great potential for love, whose fulfillment and happiness consisted of being easily inflamed and able to give himself. Then why was this being with such rich and perceptive senses so set on leading the ascetic life of the mind? Goldmund was one of those people part of whose lives have been lost; pressure of circumstances or some kind of magic power has obliterated a portion of their past. ‘I believe that he suffers because he has forgotten a part of his past.’ ‘Ah? And what part is that?’ 'His mother, and everything connected with her.’ 'I reminded him that he does not know himself, that he had forgotten his childhood and his mother.'" Hesse, H. (1930) Narcissus and Goldmund, at 32, 34, 28, 47, and 48 (Bantam Books/Published by arrangement with Farrar, Straus, and Giroux: 1987).

Upon recathecting his mother Goldmund undergoes a transformation of identity--from schizoid vacuum to what might be termed, to apply a Reichian concept, phallic narcissism. Might the subject himself undergo a similar personality transformation were he to recathect his mother? It is noteworthy in this regard that the subject’s physical appearance, some of the people to whom he is drawn, and even the style of clothing he wears appear peculiarly inconsistent with his apparent identity. It is as though he had an ambiguous affinity for some other, seemingly alien, identity that lurks just below the surface of his consciousness--an identity that is for the most pity lost and inaccessible to conscious awareness, yet which seek expression and vivification (or revivification).

(Compare the age-old aspiration of the Jews, which found practical expression in the Zionists’ goal: the end of Jews’ exile from their ancient homeland, or “motherland”, and the revival of a lost Hebrew (phallic) identity. Interpreted psychoanalytically, exile for the Jews meant separation from a symbolic nurturing mother, resulting in a collective identity loss in the form of a regression, on a cultural level, to a prephallic stage. Return of the Jews transformed the Jewish identity into an Israeli identity. “The Israeli is now possessed of a sovereign state, whose power, though objectively not great, represents for the unconscious a phallus like any other. The Israeli, by living in his own land, has thus refound the mother and forms with her a couple, as is the case with other peoples. He lives, not in a vacuum like the Jew, but in a material (as Freud remarked, the words materia and mater have the same derivation) world that is governed and organized.” Grunberger, B. “The Anti-Semite and the Oedipal Conflict.” International Journal of Psycho-Analysis 45: 380-385, at 384-385 (1964). And “[i]n his homeland, and tilling his very home soil," Erikson notes, “the ‘ingathered’ Jew was to overcome such evil identities as result from eternal wandering . . . and intellectualizing and was to become whole again in body and mind. . . .” Erikson, E.H. Identity and the Life Cycle (1959), at 172 (Norton: 1980)).

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.