Thursday, April 29, 2010

Letter to Psychologist: Lisa Osborne, Ph.D. (1998-1999) 1/20/99

TO: Lisa Osborne
FROM: Gary Freedman
DATE: January 20, 1999
RE: Schizophrenia - Paranoia - Surveillance Fantasy

I offer the following thoughts as a footnote to our consultation on Wednesday, January 13, 1999. At that time we discussed the diagnosis of a psychotic disorder in my case and my belief that I have been under surveillance by my former employer (a law firm managed by Robert Strauss and Vernon Jordan, who happens to be a close friend of President Clinton).

It is very easy to dismiss my ideas that I have been under surveillance by powerful and influential people as a product of my paranoia.

I want to offer some highly speculative but oddly plausible ideas about the issue of surveillance. I have identified two historical figures whose privacy was in fact invaded and who also suffered from schizophrenia-like qualities.

Those two figures are the philosophers Friedrich Nietzsche, a protege of the composer Richard Wagner, and Baruch ("Bento") Spinoza, a prot‚g‚ of the leading Rabbi in Amsterdam, Saul Morteira. Wagner had a clandestine correspondence with Nietzsche's medical doctor, who breached Nietzsche's confidences; Morteira placed Spinoza under surveillance by "stool pigeons."

According to Albert Rothenberg, M.D., both Spinoza and Nietzsche were possible candidates for the diagnosis schizophrenia. See Madness and Creativity at 155 (Baltimore: John Hopkins Press, 1990).

But as we see, the diagnosis schizophrenia does not deny that these individuals were in fact intruded upon. Indeed, I would like to offer the hypothesis that in certain few cases the existence of schizophrenic qualities may dispose a person to actual surveillance.

Logically, it appears that a person who is secretive, solitary, somewhat odd, but also brilliant and iconoclastic, might attract the interest and intrusion (and defensive, paranoid concerns) of persons of power and influence (whose own personalities suggest a tendency toward narcissism. Compare Robert Strauss: "World leaders are fascinated by me; they are intrigued by me.")

A notable literary paradigm would be Shakespeare's Hamlet, an odd but gifted figure, who was placed under surveillance by his step-father, Claudius, King of Denmark.

Rothenberg also points out that there is a thin line that separates family backgrounds that promote creativity and those that promote schizophrenia. See Madness and Creativity at 12-13. Rothenberg points out that certain types of disturbed family communications (that might promote schizophrenia) can train a person to be especially sensitive to implied messages in interpersonal communications.

My point is that the issues are complex and overlapping. While I may be schizophrenic, it can also be said that I have the personality and background that might make me especially sensitive to implied messages in interpersonal communications, and may also have the personality that disposes me to being placed under surveillance.

You can reach Dr. Rothenberg at the Austin Riggs Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Coincidentally, Dr. Rothenberg is a graduate of Tufts Medical School, which is Dr. Quint's medical school alma mater. Dr. Rothenberg heads a long-term research program, "Studies in the Creative Process."

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