Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Social Security Document Submission: June 1993

Page 130 of Social Security Document Submission

Dear Stell,

Enclosed is a picture of my good friend, Dr. Goldman, in the great synagogue in Florence, Italy.

One of those typical, good-looking, New York dentists.


[In the summer of 1978 I took a trip to Italy on Perillo Tours. I befriended a dentist, Dr. Goldman and his wife; they traveled to Italy with their friends, Bernie Battan and his wife. I doubt these individuals are still living.]

Pages 131-132 of Social Security Document Submission

Dear Stell,

I have a few additional thoughts on people’s reaction to me in the context of Marshall McLuhan’s aphorism, “the medium is the message.” One might expand McLuhan’s aphorism to read: The medium is the message, and the message conveyed by the medium modifies the manifest content of the message. (It is perhaps of more than incidental interest that Dr. Rothenberg notes that McLuhan’s observation regarding content and structure is itself a Janusian formulation.

1. In 1903 a German judge, Dr. Daniel Paul Schreber, published his own case history, translated as Memoirs of a Neurotic. The memoirs later came to the attention of Sigmund Freud, who published his own analysis of Schreber’s book. Freud never met Schreber. Schreber’s book reveals a grandiose and paranoid personality structure (though contemporary diagnosticians would classify Schreber’s psychopathology, under DSM-III criteria, as Schizophrenia, Undifferentiated Type, Chronic: DSM-III Diagnosis 295.92). Schreber’s book, a medium, contains a content, or message. That message, according to Freud, is paranoia. Yet what Freud overlooks in his assessment of Schreber’s personality is that he, Freud--one of the great, original thinkers of the twentieth century--went out of his way to analyze Schreber’s book. Freud overlooks the fact that Schreber was not simply the sum total of the content, or message, of his memoirs. Schreber’s personality functioning is further revealed in the medium--the fact that he was a paranoiac who wrote a book about himself and that that book was analyzed by Freud. The medium, and the reaction to that medium, modified the message. To give a full description of Schreber’s ego functioning, one is compelled to say not simply that Schreber was a paranoiac, but rather Schreber was a paranoiac who wrote his memoirs, which were, in turn, analyzed by Freud. Certainly not all paranoiacs write their memoirs, and not all paranoiacs who write their memoirs are analyzed by geniuses. An important aspect of Schreber’s personality functioning--an aspect that might have therapeutic implications-- is overlooked if we appraise Schreber’s personality solely on the content of Schreber’s message and ignore the possible implications of the medium through which he communicated that message together with the reaction to that medium. In analyzing Schreber, Freud was not a “neutral observer,” though he posed as one. Freud’s analysis of Schreber was itself a medium that to some degree modified the message of Schreber’s memoirs.

2. Let us suppose that I, an employee of a major law firm, make an appointment to see a psychiatrist. One of the founding partners of the organization, on his own initiative, contacts the psychiatrist to offer some information on my background and difficulties in order to assist the therapy. The partner’s communication is a medium. That medium conveys a message. Let us say that the message is that I have serious personality difficulties and difficulties with my coworkers. The partner’s status, and the unusual nature of the communication, modifies the partner’s message, however. It would be an incomplete description of me to say simply that I have serious personality difficulties and serious difficulties withy my co-workers.  One has to consider the partner's reaction to me as part of my personality functioning The medium modifies the message. A full description of me is that I have serious personality difficulties, have serious difficulties with my coworkers, but have come to the attention of a partner in a major law firm who has apparently taken an interest in my welfare. The partner is not simply a “neutral observer,” though he might wish to pose as one; The partner’s communication is itself a medium that modifies his own message.

[Note the following statement: "a partner in a major law firm who has apparently taken an interest in my welfare."  My belief that I am under surveillance by my employer may be paranoid, but is it persecutory?]

The following two anecdotes may be related to the foregoing observations. Both anecdotes involve the issue of an individual placing himself outside the status of active participant, and assigning himself the role of “neutral observer.” One wonders in what way, if any, the communications of the "neutral observers” are a medium than modify their own message.

1. In mid-June 1988 I was hired as a temporary legal assistant at Akin Gump.  At about the time of my hiring I stopped into the office of David Callet, a partner, and introduced myself. I did no more than introduce myself. On his own initiative, David Callet asked me to sit down. He asked me a few questions about my background. He offered some advice, telling me that instead of working at Akin Gump, I should be out “pounding the pavement” looking for a job consistent with my educational background. One might stay that David Callet was simply being polite, that he was showing some humane concern. But perhaps the following anecdote modifies one’s interpretation of David Callet’s reaction.

[David Callet, Esq., like me, was a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University.]

2. On November 14, 1989 I had lunch with [my friend from Hogan & Hartson] Craig [W. Dye]. At that time he told me that I should make an effort to be friendly with people, that I shouldn’t worry in advance about people’s reaction to me--”You shouldn’t be worried that people will think you’re weird.” Here the medium--a friend offering advice--contradicts the message. If I were to apply Craig’s own message to Craig himself, I wind up with a worthless message.

An additional factor that confers significance and symmetry to these anecdotes is that the nature of the actors who have placed themselves in the role of “neutral observers.”  Sigmund Freud, Malcolm Lassman, David Callet, Craig Dye -- all the best and the brightest. Each in their own way sought out their subject in order to play the role of neutral observer. I wonder whether there is anything to this.


[handwritten note:] 8/10/92

[“I wind up with a worthless message.” I attempted to be friendly with Craig, but he never initiated any social contact with me. He never returned my telephone messages.]

[“On November 14, 1989 I had lunch with Craig.” I still remember that day. I had asked my coworker at Akin Gump, Jesse Raben, to join Craig and me for lunch. Jesse Raben agreed to join us. At noon I telephoned Jesse Raben; he backed out of lunch, explaining that he had to cite check a brief. I met Craig at the DuPont Circle Metro station across the street from Akin Gump’s office. I said: “Jesse weaseled out.”

Oddly, in December--about a month later--at the firm’s legal assistant Christmas luncheon at the Westin Hotel, I was seated at a table with the legal assistant Philip Feigen (now an attorney) who used to share an office with Jesse Raben at Akin Gump. Phil Feigen said about someone: “He weaseled out,” all the while looking at me with disdain. I had the paranoid suspicion that on November 14, 1989 Craig had communicated my comment about Jesse Raben to his contact at Akin Gump, and the comment--like everything else I said or was said about me--was disseminated throughout the firm.

I remember that Craig and I went to a Mexican take-out restaurant on Connecticut Avenue, a few blocks north of Akin Gump’s office. There was a full-length wall mirror in the establishment. Craig and I were standing in line, and Craig was looking at himself in the mirror, running his fingers through his hair. I said to Craig: “Can I do that, Craig?” Craig said: “Do what?” I said (in jest): “Run my fingers through your hair.” Craig said “no.” He didn’t seem to think that was humorous. A man standing in front of us turned around, first looking at me and then at Craig. I had the feeling he was thinking: “What are these -- a pair of queers standing in back of me?”

Craig and I got our lunch, walked back to DuPont Circle, sat on a park bench and ate. Craig was headed off to Paris to visit his girlfriend Alexandra Zapruder, who was studying at the Sorbonne. He planned to stay with her in her room for a week. Craig’s girlfriend was studying art; I assume Craig and Alex went to some art events in Paris.

(I can recall that when Craig returned from Paris, I asked him if he had seen the I.M. Pei-designed glass pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre.  Coincidentally, the architect I.M. Pei also designed Columbia Square, where Hogan & Hartson's office is located in downtown Washington.)

It was while we were eating lunch that Craig said: “You need to make an effort to be friendly with people. You can’t worry that people think you’re weird.”

Oddly enough, the Freud scholar Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, in his autobiographical book, Final Analysis: The Making and Unmaking of a Psychoanalyst, talks about his fears that people thought he was weird. The issue came up in Masson’s libel lawsuit against The New Yorker Magazine, a case that reached the U.S. Supreme Court. The journalist Janet Malcolm had written the following about Masson in The New Yorker (as reprinted in the Court's opinion):

"(a) 'Intellectual Gigolo.' Malcolm quoted a description by petitioner of his relationship with Eissler and Anna Freud as follows:

''Then I met a rather attractive older graduate student and I had an affair with her. One day, she took me to some art event, and she was sorry afterward. She said, "Well, it is very nice sleeping with you in your room, but you're the kind of person who should never leave the room--you're just a social embarrassment anywhere else, though you do fine in your own room." And you know, in their way, if not in so many words, Eissler and Anna Freud told me the same thing. They like me well enough "in my own room." They loved to hear from me what creeps and dolts analysts are. I was like an intellectual gigolo--you get your pleasure from him, but you don't take him out in public. . . .'' In the Freud Archives 38."

The Supreme Court pointed out that, in fact, Malcolm’s printed version of Masson’s statement was a gross distortion.  The Court's opinion states:

"The tape recordings contain the substance of petitioner's reference to his graduate student friend, App. 95, but no suggestion that Eissler or Anna Freud considered him, or that he considered himself, an "'intellectual gigolo.'" Instead, petitioner said: [503]

"They felt, in a sense, I was a private asset but a public liability. . . . They liked me when I was alone in their living room, and I could talk and chat and tell them the truth about things and they would tell me. But that I was, in a sense, much too junior within the hierarchy of analysis, for these important training analysts to be caught dead with me." Id., at 104."

The Supreme Court’s opinion in Masson v. New Yorker Magazine can be found at:


Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the Court’s opinion.

When Craig said to me: “You need to make an effort to be friendly with people. You can’t worry that people think you’re weird” -- I had the feeling his statement was projective. It was probably Craig, like Jeffrey Masson, who worried that people thought he was weird.

As far as David Callet's statement that it was I who needed to "pound the pavement" and look for another job, it's ironic that it was David Callet who, years later, ended up "pounding the pavement"--he later left Akin Gump to join another DC law firm, Traurig Greenberg.

As Dr. Eissler would say, “Be that as it may.”]


Gary Freedman said...

I don't keep a diary. My recollections are in my mind.

Gary Freedman said...

Jeffrey Masson waged a 12-year battle against The New Yorker, alleging that the magazine libeled him. He has said, "Once you get your teeth into something, you don't let go." I would agree with that.

Often compared to the interminable Jarndyce v. Jarndyce lawsuit in Dickens's Bleak House, Masson v. Malcolm had traveled a long, misted path through five complaints, one dismissal, two appeals, a hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court, a hung jury, and finally, a completed trial, decided in Malcolm's favor on November 2, 1994. Steadied by her husband and editor, Gardner Botsford, Malcolm wept with relief as the verdict was read. So decisive was the judgment that legal experts believed Masson has little chance of an appeal, and, from the ashen look that fell over his face, he may have lost his taste for the fight. His latest book, When Elephants Weep, a study of the emotional life of animals, will be published next year. Apart from co-teaching a class on journalistic ethics at Berkeley this summer, Masson says he has no further plans. Malcolm is currently writing about Vanessa Bell and the Bloomsbury group for The New Yorker.


Gary Freedman said...

Jeffrey Masson lives in New Zealand, coincidentally

Telstraclear Auckland Dsl Customers (xxxxx.180)

Tauranga, Gisborne, New Zealand, 1 returning visit

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30th March 2010 02:27:26 PM Page View No referring link

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.