I wrote the following letter to the U.S. Secret Service on August 6, 1998. On the evening of August 6, 1998 the U.S. Capitol Police stormed into my apartment, and accused me of having gotten into a violent argument with someone at my local mental health clinic earlier that day (the P Street Clinic), and that at the height of an enraged argument I had threatened to kill two federal law enforcement officers at point blank range, execution style. After sorting out the facts, the U.S. Capitol Police recognized that its action was based on erroneous or false information that had been provided to the USCP by a party whose identity was not disclosed to me.
On Friday morning August 7, 1998 I had my first consult with Albert H. Taub, M.D. who was furious with me about my interaction with law enforcement the night before. I formed the paranoid, unsubstantiated opinion that part of Dr. Taub's anger was a reaction to the following letter about William D. Brown, Ph.D., which I had submitted to Lisa Osborn days before. At the consult on August 7, 1998 Dr. Taub said: "The police are men of action. They're not great thinkers. They're not interested in having intellectual discussions about Freud and psychoanalysis. The police are men of action."
TO: Phillip C. Leadroot, S.A.
FROM: Gary Freedman
DATE: August 6, 1998
RE: Psychotherapeutic Treatment
This will advise that I have been assigned to a new psychotherapist at the P Street Clinic (D.C. Mental Health Services Administration). Her name is Lisa Osborne; she is a Ph.D. candidate in psychology.
I enclose a copy of a letter addressed to Ms. Osborne that discusses my relationship with William D. Brown, Ph.D., a psychologist with whom I was in treatment in the weeks and months immediately prior to my job termination, in October 1991.
Incidentally, Robert W. Keisling, M.D., a forensic psychiatrist affiliated with St. Elizabeths (and also a clinical instructor in psychiatry at GW) might consent, as a courtesy to the Secret Service, to discuss my case with you. I saw Dr. Keisling interviewed on television concerning the suspect in the Capitol Hill shooting. As you know, there are continuing concerns about my potential for violence.
August 5, 1998
3801 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008-4530
Community Mental Health Center - North
Washington, DC 20007
Dear Ms. Osborne:
I am forwarding my thoughts about a collection of clinical assessments and therapeutic recommendations that seem consistent with my work with a previous treating mental health professional. This analysis attempts to evaluate the possible defensive aspects of those assessments and recommendations. The analysis does not demonstrate that the assessments and recommendations are in fact defensive, but, rather, assigns a tentative possibility to the idea that they are defensive and proceeds to show what the irrational content might be.
WILLIAM D. BROWN, Ph.D.
I had twenty consultations with Dr. Brown that extended from the period May 1991 to October 1991. I believe that if Dr. Brown were to provide a clinical assessment of me, it might center on the following issues:
Client is a shy individual whose distress centers on loneliness resulting from his difficulty in initiating social interaction. Client's problems are exacerbated by a lack of trust and suspiciousness; client projects his anxiety onto the environment, and, as a consequence, defensively perceives the environment as threatening. Client needs to be encouraged to initiate social interaction and respond appropriately to the social overtures of others. Client has a tendency to intellectualize, which places further strains on his ability to engage in a type of social relatedness that is attractive to others, which relatedness depends on affective spontaneity. Client's report of workplace harassment, to the extent it is accurate, is the result of client's under-employed status (he is a lawyer who is employed as a paralegal), and the normal inclination of people to take a dim view of a person who fails to actualize his capacities or to assume a role appropriate to his abilities. Client needs to "let loose" and learn to have fun. In time, it is hoped that with his growing experience in social interaction, client will learn that other persons do not pose a threat to him, and client will have acquired the social prowess to develop enduring relationships that ward off the pain of loneliness.
The analysis that follows is an attempt to deconstruct the above assessment: an attempt to show how Dr. Brown's seemingly objective assessment of me may be interpreted as the result of Brown's use of me as an object of externalization to ward off, or defend against, his own internal threats.
Client is a shy individual whose distress centers on loneliness resulting from his difficulty in initiating social interaction.
Guilt versus Separation Fears
It is recognized that "[s]hyness in an individual may develop out of a whole number of different factors and could be related to guilt on the one hand, or annihilation anxiety on the other." McLean, D. "Maturational and Experiental Components of Character Formation." In: The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. Vol. 47: 235-252 at 241 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992).
A therapist who is struggling with his own unresolved separation-individuation issues (annihilation anxiety) may be disposed to explain a client's social isolation as resulting from the client's failure to separate from mother rather than explain the client's social isolation as resulting from the client's past struggle with a hostile developmental environment and the client's consequent defensive structuralization that centers on guilt. Such guilt may have various exogenous sources. For example, intense anxiety and guilt in relation to drive expression may arise in a client who was subjected to psychological aggression in a narcissistically-disturbed environment. Novick, J. and Kelly, K. "Projection and Externalization." In: The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. Vol. 25: 69-95 at 92-3 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1970). Also, a victim's past identification with an aggressor--and the client's consequent defensive structuralization--may be a significant issue in a client's adult social difficulties. See e.g. Shengold, L. Soul Murder (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989).
A therapist's own defensive (unacknowledged) need to preserve an idealized image of the parent or parental derivative (in the form of the social system) may preclude his ability to assess a client's past defensive struggle with aggression emanating from the environment and the consequences of that struggle for the client's psychic development and social behavior. A therapist's emphasis on separation-individuation issues (annihilation anxiety) preserves the image of the client as fearful, or conventionally "shy," and ultimately preserves the image of the "good parent" (or the parental derivative in the form of the narcisistically cathected peer group) as benign. Cf. Gilman, S. The Case of Sigmund Freud: Medicine and Identity at the Fin de SiŠcle at 9 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1993): "one must [appreciate] the replacement of the bifurcated, introjected image of the caregiver (as the "good" and "bad" Other) in the adult by the peer group[.] . . . It is the peer group that assumes the bipolar structure of the caregiver." (By implication, an individual who needs to deny "bad" aspects of the parent may have a parallel need to deny hostile or aggressive aspects of the social system, or peer group. Such an individual, dominated as he will be by significant separation-individuation issues, may need to characterize as "paranoid" any negative evaluation of the social system that threatens his idealized image of the parent or its derivative, the peer group.)
Lack of Autonomous Development and Failure to Develop Reaction Formations against Anality
A therapist's emphasis on a client's distress as a consequence of social isolation as opposed to the opposite, an assessment of the extent to which the client's social isolation is a consequence of underlying distress (in the form of unconscious wishes, conflicts, and prohibitions), suggests the therapist's lack of autonomous development.
The therapist's recommendation that the client needs to merge with a social system in order to relieve his distress may be consistent with the therapist's (1) anality and (2) impairments in his superego development, which impairments permit or require him to derive narcissistic integrity by merger with others. The therapist's attribution to the client of feelings of painful loneliness may be inexact; the therapist may in fact be imputing to the client the unacknowledged feelings of shame the therapist himself experiences as a result of a failure to merge with the parental derivative in the form of the peer group and the consequent threats to his narcissistic integrity.
"If narcissistic support is available in sufficient quantity from an identification with the ideals of a group, or with the ideals of a leader, then the superego may be completely disregarded, and its functions taken over by the group ideals, precepts, and behavior." Sandler, J. "On The Concept of Superego." In: The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. Vol. 15: 152-159 at 156 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1960). "Idealization of a narcissistically cathected group guarantees collective grandiosity [and promotes the narcissistic integrity of individual group members] ." Miller, A. For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and The Roots of Violence at 86 (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1983). By implication, defects in superego development in an individual-- and the consequent threats to self-esteem that impaired ego differentiation may pose for the individual--may be compensated for by merger with a social group, the group serving as a kind of prosthetic superego.
It is interesting to observe that the consequences for social behavior of pre-autonomous superego functioning may be similar to the social effects of a particular level of libidinal phase development, namely, the anal phase. (Conversely, it may be expected that rigid reaction formations against anality together with guilt in relation to a harsh, autonomous superego may entail specific and profound consequences for an individual's social functioning. See e.g. Fernando, J. "The Exceptions: Structural and Dynamic Aspects." In: The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. Vol. 52: 17-28 at 21 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997)).
For the regressed anal character "only the organic insertion within an organized social system gives narcissistic importance to the individual and only this form of narcissistic integrity is capable of giving him a phallus." Grunberger, B. "The Anti-Semite and the Oedipal Conflict." International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 45: 380-385, 384 (1964). A therapist's insistent recommendation that a client interact with others, to the extent that that denies the intrapsychic sources of the client's distress, may reflect the dominant role of anality in the therapist's personality and his failure to develop reaction formations against it.
Attributions of Shyness as a Defense Against Abandonment Fears
Shyness, or the fear of approaching an object, is the polar opposite of a fear of abandonment: the fear of losing an existing valued relationship. A therapist's emphasis on a client's shyness (the simple fear of approaching others to initiate social interaction), therefore, may serve as a defense against the therapist's own unacknowledged fear of abandonment. Cf. Freud, S. "Negation." Standard Edition, 19: 235-239 (1925). A recognition that defensive attributions of shyness may actually relate to the attributer's unacknowledged abandonment fears allows us to see that such attributions of shyness may, in fact, be linked also to the issue of jealousy: i.e., a fear that another person jeopardizes one's existing valued relations. Thus, defensive and insistent attributions of shyness may actually relate to the attributer's perception of the other as an envied intruder. The statement "He is afraid of approaching the social system" can be deconstructed to mean "I am afraid that with his fine qualities, the social system might decide to accept him and abandon me." Cf. Freud, S. "'A Child Is Being Beaten.' A Contribution to the Study of the Origin of Sexual Perversions." Standard Edition. Vol. 17: 179-204 at 186-8 (1919) (a child's fantasy that an adult is beating another child relates to the child's feelings of jealousy and fear of abandonment by the father: in effect, the child is saying "Father loves only me, not the other child who is being beaten").
Attributions of Shyness Tend to Deny Those Aspects of the Client's Interpersonal Conflicts That Are Rooted in Conflicts of Identity
Emphasis on a client's simple fear of approaching others will obscure the extent to which the client's intrapsychic identity-conflicts or interpersonal identity-conflicts play a role in the patient's social inhibitions.
Erikson has tried "to demonstrate that the ego values accrued in childhood culminate in what [he] has called a sense of ego identity. The sense of ego identity, then, is the accrued confidence that one's ability to maintain inner sameness and continuity (one's ego in the psychological sense) is matched by the sameness and continuity of one's meaning for others. Thus, self-esteem, confirmed at the end of each major crisis, grows to be a conviction that one is learning effective steps toward a tangible future, that one is developing a defined personality within a social reality which one understands. The growing child must, at every step, derive a vitalizing sense of reality from the awareness that his individual way of mastering experience is a successful variant of the way other people around him master the experience and recognize such mastery." Erikson, E. Identity and the Life Cycle (1959) at 94-5 (New York: W.W. Norten, 1980). Successful interpersonal relations will require some alignment of an individual's ego identity with the identity of others.
Interestingly, a therapist's capacity to appreciate the implications for social behavior of issues relating to ego identity may be impaired by the therapist's anal defensiveness. Grunberger points out that the act of denuding an individual of personal characteristics, or personal identity, and substituting for that specific identity a numerical or quantitative designation, is an anally-determined procedure. See Grunberger at 381: "The anti-Semite's specific [anal] regression is most clearly seen in his representation of the Jew [broadly speaking, a metaphor for the "bad child" imago]. This follows the line of destroying his individuality. The Jew is denuded of all personal characteristics[:] . . . in the concentration camps they were designated by numbers."
Cf. Shengold, L. Soul Murder at 152-153 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989): "'Anal defensiveness' involves a panoply of defenses evolved during the anal phase of psychic development that culminates with the individual's power to reduce anything meaningful to 'shit'--to the nominal, the degraded, the undifferentiated."
If all individuals are alike in personal qualities and needs, that is, denuded of any personal characteristics, then the only factor that could possibly prompt an individual not to approach his peers is that he is shy or fearful. Thus, attributions of fear can serve as a defense against personal identity.
Client's problems are exacerbated by a lack of trust and suspiciousness; client projects his anxiety onto the environment, and, as a consequence, defensively perceives the environment as threatening.
Ego Weakness Manifested in Suspiciousness versus Ego Strength Manifested in Curiosity
The therapist may defend against anxieties in connection with intellectual curiosity (see below) by depicting a client's "investigative, curious, questioning" qualities as manifestations of a lack of trust. It is interesting to observe that the MMPI "paranoia scale" alone cannot distinguish between a truly paranoid (or suspicious) individual and an intellectually curious individual. Anastasi, A. Psychological Testing, 6th ed. (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1988). Further, it has been found that creative persons tend to be hypervigilant in their assessment of the environment, and that they are "constantly engaged in reality testing." Myden, W. "An Interpretation and Evaluation of Certain Personality Characteristics Involved in Creative Production." In: A Rorschach Reader, pp. 149-167, 164-5 (New York: International Universities Press, 1960).
Attributions of "Lack of Trust" that Defensively Aim To Preserve the "Good Mother" Imago
A therapist's charge that a client shows a "lack of trust," with the implication that the client is engaging in a form of "bad behavior," obscures the fact that a lack of trust may have its origins in the client's past struggle with an aggressive environment.
The emotional connecting necessary for insight is initially more than soul-murdered people can bear. They learned as children that to be emotionally open, to want something passionately, was the beginning of frustrating torment. The deeply ingrained bad expectations are felt toward parents and all "grown-ups." The distrust is based not only on the projection of "bad" feelings (derived from the aggressive drives and the inevitable frustration of wishes), which give rise to intimations of losing control and a terror of being overwhelmed by feeling. Such fears beset every child in the course of development; they also lurk in our subsequent fantasy life (although their intensity varies with the individual). In addition to this, the distrust of parents and the entire affectively charged environment is based for soul-murder victims on experienced reality. They have been abused and neglected and have learned a lesson: if you cannot trust mother and father, whom can you trust? Shengold, L. Soul Murder at 312 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989).
One has the disturbing sense that this therapist is saying: "You do not trust me. You are a bad person. It is wrong not to trust. You must trust me, because I am (like Big Brother) an authority figure. You must trust your peers, because they are the successors of your parents. You are being punished with social isolation by your peers because of your bad behavior of not trusting people. If you do not trust others, they will abandon you, and you will end up isolated and lonely." (Here, the therapist emphasizes bad consequences as a "punishment" for the client's "bad behavior," with all that implies about impairment in the therapist's separation-individuation and consequent impairment in his ability to think in terms of cause and effect.)
One senses that Shengold is saying: "You do not trust me because you have been injured in the past by aggression. You want to trust me, because I, like your parents, am an authority on whom you would like to depend. The aggression you have experienced in the past is an underlying cause that has the necessary effect of making it difficult for you to trust persons in your present. If you do not acknowledge what was done to you in the past, you will not be able to trust in the future." (Here, the therapist emphasizes bad consequences as an "effect" of past aggression against the client, with all that implies about the therapist's ability to acknowledge aggression by a parental object; with all that implies about the therapist's having overcome the fear of abandonment by the primary caregiver--i.e., his having successfully negotiated the issue of separation from the mother.)
Client needs to be encouraged to initiate social interaction and respond appropriately to the social overtures of others.
The therapist relied on exhortation, encouragement, and shaming behaviors calculated to prompt the client to interact with others (and, of course, ignored the precise dynamics of what actually happened when the client interacted with others). A significant portion of the therapy was devoted to such encouragement.
A possible interpretation of the defensive content of the therapist's conduct is provided by Beren's observations about the origins of certain narcissistic disorders in children, namely, in the use of coercive parental encouragement to foster a child's development.
Precocious ego development. This can be observed in the extreme unevenness of development, where certain capacities and functions may be highly matured or overdeveloped while others lag behind. This uneven development usually dovetails with the parents' inability to see the child as a whole in a developmentally appropriate way, and with their overemphasis on certain of the child's functions that fit in with their own narcissistic needs.
For example, the parents may give a good deal of praise and encouragement for independence, at the expense of emotional and physical closeness. Thus the child discovers that the parents will not accept his dependence, and learns early on to take care of himself. Or the parent may overvalue one particular ego function such as speech, so that speech becomes overvalued and used for defensive purposes rather than for communicative or thought clarifying purposes (citation omitted). What happens to these children is that they tend to use intellectualization and become emotionally removed and aloof. Another outcome may be the child who functions emotionally and physically as a little parent in the family, i.e., when there is an extreme form of role reversal in the parent-child relationship (citation omitted). Beren, P. "Narcissistic Disorders in Children." In: The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. Vol. 47: 265-278 at 276 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992).
Client has a tendency to intellectualize, which places further strains on his ability to engage in a type of social relatedness that is attractive to others, which relatedness depends on affective spontaneity.
The therapist may be defending against his failure to develop an adequate sublimation of his aggressive and erotic wishes into intellectual curiosity. As a result of his developmental impairment, the therapist may experience as threatening the client's intellectual curiosity and his "scientific approach to learning and thinking."
The child's dyadic relationship [with the primary caregiver] slowly merges into the oedipal triadic relationship with the parents by the end of the fourth year, ushering in a severely conflictual situation for children of both sexes. If identification with the parent of the same sex has been proceeding well, this identification now serves as a stabilizing force, facilitating the temporary surrender of incestuous wishes and the modulation of hostile aggressive wishes towards the parent of the same sex. Sublimation of the sexual and aggressive drive derivatives can now proceed, with curiosity directed towards other areas. A significant landmark during latency is the gradual emergence of a scientific approach to learning and thinking. The why and wherefore of things become very important: concepts of the world and people begin to expand, and the development of reasoning steadily advances. Curiosity about sexuality gives way, under reasonably adequate psychological conditions, to curiosity about the wider aspects of the world, a sublimation of a portion of sexual as well as aggressive wishes that continues into adult life unless inhibitions arise because of psychological conflicts that were insufficiently resolved during the pre-oedipal and oedipal periods. Galenson, E. "Comments." In: Ostow, M. Ultimate Intimacy: The Psychodynamics of Jewish Mysticism, pp. 144-150 at 150 (Madison, CT: International Universities Press, Inc.: 1995).
The therapist relied predominantly on questioning of the client, allowing the client to be as expansive in his responses as the client wished. Each successive client response was followed by another question from the therapist that was based on the clinical material produced by the client's prior response. Some of the questions were somewhat vacuous, such as, "What is your favorite time of the year?" or "Was there ever a time in your life when you were happy?" 1/ There was a sense in which the therapist's style was a parody of investigation and intellectual curiosity, the therapist acting "as if" he were delving into the client's thoughts, feelings, and wishes, but in a deceptively superficial way.
Client's report of workplace harassment, to the extent it is accurate, is the result of client's under-employed status (he is a lawyer who is employed as a paralegal), and the normal inclination of people to take a dim view of a person who fails to actualize his capacities or to assume a role appropriate to his abilities.
"Majoritarianism" (Anal Defensiveness)
a) The therapist's interpretation is a rationalization of majoritarianism. In effect the therapist is saying: "In a situation in which there is a conflict between a single individual and a group of individuals, the group must be right and the single individual must be wrong." The use of majoritarianism may be interpreted as an expression, once again, of anal defensiveness in which the therapist denies, or fails to assess, the precise dynamicserapist's interpretation is a rationalization of majoritarianism. In effect the therapist is saying: "In a situation in which there is a conflict between a single individual and a group of individuals, the group must be right and the single individual must be wrong." The use of majoritarianism may be interpreted as an expression, once again, of anal defensiveness in which the therapist denies, or fails to assess, the precise dynamics of the situation, and substitutes a quantitative construct ("majoritarianism") for a qualitative content.
Pre-Autonomous Superego Functioning
b) The therapist assigns to the social system the right to make moral value judgments about an individual: "If you are being harassed it is because you bring this situation on yourself; your underemployed status is shameful." This indicates the therapist's identification with pre-autonomous superego functioning by assigning to the group the role of a superego or parental derivative that has the right in loco parentis to judge, chastise, or punish. Note that the therapist consistently withholds the right of the client to judge or evaluate his peers: any negative evaluations by the client of his peers will not be accorded the respect of a "parental" value judgment (i.e., depicted as benignly objective, rational, or useful). Rather, the client's negative evaluations of his peers will be depicted as the judgments of a "bad child" -- the products of aggressive spite, jealousy, projection, hypersensitivity, or paranoia, etc. In sum, the client's observations about the social system will be shame-endowed, while the social system's judgments of the client will be depicted by the therapist as rational, objective, and in the service of laudable social aims ("to get the client to act like an adult").
Note, once again, the therapist's use of a purported "cause/effect" or "stimulus/response" analysis ("You are under-employed, therefore people naturally react negatively") that really masks the underlying message that originates in a more primitive notion of causality, "infraction/punishment:" "You are not actualizing your potential, which is shameful and bad. Therefore, you are being punished, and rightfully so."
The similarities to the concerns of adolescents (and, not merely coincidentally, to members of cults)--specifically with regard to conformance to group norms and the use of shame to ensure conformance--are clear. Among adolescents, writes Erikson, "there is a universal trend toward some form of uniformity (and sometimes to special uniforms or distinctive clothing) through which incomplete self-certainty, for a time, can hide in a group certainty, such as is provided by the badges as well as the sacrifices of investitures, confirmations, and initiations. Even those who care to differ radically must evolve a certain uniformity of differing (snobs, zoot-suiters). These and less obvious uniformities are supported by the institution of comprehensive shaming among peers, a judgmental give-and-take and free banding together which leaves only a few 'holding the bag' in painful (if sometimes creative) isolation." Erikson, E. H. Identity and the Life Cycle (1959) at 154-155 (New York: W.W. Norton, 1980).
Narcissistic Disorder (Precocious Ego Development/Uneven Ego Development)
c) The therapist overlooks the possibility that the source of the harassment is centered in a small cadre of narcissistically-disturbed persons (possibly supervisory personnel) who have uneven ego development (see Beren), and, who, as narcissistically-disturbed people, are socially-exploitive and manipulative, using the social system in the service of their own needs. In effect, these harassment "ringleaders" may treat the client, or cause the client to be treated, as they would have been treated by their parents, as children; the client's underemployed status is depicted as shameful by these individuals in order to abreact their own anxiety in relation to the need to act (in an "as if" fashion) as mature adults. In effect, the harassment "ringleaders" use the social system to abreact their own narcissistically-exploitive need to make the client/victim feel what they felt as children when, in relation to their parents, they failed to actualize a developmental capacity. See Beren. Supervisory personnel who exhibit such narcissistic disturbance may possess certain capacities and functions that may be highly matured or overdeveloped--the source of their effectiveness as supervisors--yet may lag behind in other areas, and, indeed, may feel exceptionally threatened by the client's own unactualized potential. The client's under-employed status (or unactualized potential) serves simultaneously as a target of shame ("he's a homosexual") but also the source of a threat ("he's a homicidal maniac").
Client needs to "let loose" and learn to have fun.
The therapist opened many of the consultations with the question, "How was your weekend?" The therapist would ask this question regardless of when the consultation took place; even a consultation on a Thursday would open with questions about the previous weekend. On occasion the questioning became insistent and coercive, such as, "Well, what did you do?" "You must have done something." "Tell me exactly what you did this weekend." "How would you rate your weekend on a scale of 1 to 10 (note the possible anal defensiveness)?" "I want to know exactly what you did this weekend!"
The therapist's questions suggest his own imperative need "to have fun"--not for reasons of personal fulfillment or release, but to fulfill a duty--to fulfill a parental directive. At another level, the therapist's conduct calls to mind an aspect of adolescent psychology: specifically, the perceived need of the adolescent--like a young horse just learning how to function with a bit in its mouth--to throw off the frustrating superego on occasion in order to "have fun," indicating that the adolescent has not yet fully integrated an emerging impulse control mechanism into a smoothly operating and well-integrated ego/superego system. In some way, the therapist's conduct is paradoxical: "having fun" was a duty, yet a duty involving the (seeming) overthrow of weekday constraints--possibly suggesting that for this therapist "fun" was engaged in in an "as if" fashion. He didn't really have fun, he only pretended to have fun to, at some level, please (or placate) his parents.
The internal experience of frustration related to the emerging ego ideal sharply conflicts with wishes for immediate gratification resulting from the weakening of the superego and the transfer of time regulation to the peer group. Adolescent time is increasingly spent on "secret" activities with peers -- on the telephone, at school, dances, parties, etc. For example, Jeff, a high school senior, spent an entire weekend at a friend's home (his parents were away) making out, drinking to the point of illness, and recuperating. Although only a few blocks from home, he managed with the help of his friends to keep his own parents in the dark. Jeff related the story with excitement and glee; for the moment the superego was overthrown, his parents deceived. He expressed his feelings in temporal terms. "It was the best time of my life. I've never had a better weekend. I can't wait to do it again. Well, maybe all of it but getting sick." Colarusso, C.A. "The Development of Time Sense in Adolescence." In: The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. Vol. 43: 179-197 at 187 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988).
There is another possible explanation for the therapist's conduct in coercively questioning the client about his weekend activities: the therapist was sadistically emphasizing the client's social isolation, his abject state, to abreact the therapist's own feelings of jealousy in relation to the client. Perhaps the therapist envied the client's freedom to do nothing or to be miserable without shame--the freedom not to have fun, a liberty denied to the therapist.
In time, it is hoped that with his growing experience in social interaction, client will learn that other persons do not pose a threat to him, and client will have acquired the social prowess to develop enduring relationships that ward off the pain of loneliness.
The therapist applies a learning model to the patient's interpersonal relations, ignoring (or denying) the underlying psychodynamic reasons for the patient's interpersonal difficulties (thereby depicting the client as simply fearful and preserving the image of the social system as benign).
The therapist's act of placing himself in a "training role" and, correspondingly, assigning the client the role of a party whose behavior is to be modified by exhortation or training may reflect the therapist's own superego functioning, which may be based on a training role.
[In some persons the] superego, [may be] an incomplete construction based on different superego formations, each corresponding to a different and overlapping phase of its development. [cf. Beren re: precocious ego development in certain narcissistic disorders.]
The principal part is played by a precociously formed superego which is based not on the introjection of complete objects but on their educative function. It pertains to a training role, which is represented in the unconscious by the introjection of an anal phallus as a part object. The pregenital superego is characterized, as we know, by its severity, and does not lead to a real identification. It is made up only of commands and prohibitions, and as the German saying has it: 'Whatever is not forbidden is obligatory.' [compare: "If you are not forbidden to have fun (as on the weekends), you must have fun!"] Moral principles are replaced by formulas, rules and ethical values by a pseudo-morality, which can be expressed as a system of respect for force. One who depends on a regressive superego of this type will only have introjected the respective strength of certain superegos, independent of their intrinsic value and content[.] Grunberger, B. "The Anti-Semite and the Oedipal Conflict." International Journal of Psycho-analysis, 45: 380-385, 380-1 (1964).
A therapist's emphasis on a training function in therapy denies the specific needs of clients with highly-differentiated ego structures--clients who possess a "scientific approach to learning and thinking"--to "observe their own wishes and abstracted feeling states, make connections between different wishes and feelings (as well as different sides of a conflict), and understand these in historical, current, and future contexts." Basseches, H. I. "A Conversation with Stanley Greenspan." The American Psychoanalyst, 28(3): 25-27, 26 (1994). A therapist's emphasis on a training function risks turning psychotherapy into dog training, with its exclusive use of praise, or reward, and chastisement.
To the extent that the above observations reflect the underlying defensive content of Dr. Brown's therapeutic assessments and recommendations, we can now offer a profile of Dr. Brown as:
A narcissistically-disordered individual whose ego was precociously developed with regard to social relatedness. He shows uneven ego development, with impoverishment in certain areas. He is engaged in a struggle with abandonment fears, shame, and jealousy, and requires social interaction to maintain self-esteem. The lack of reaction formation against his intense anality requires that he preserve his narcissistic integrity by merger with a social group, the maternal derivative: has an absolute prohibition against depicting the social system, on which he relies to preserve his self-esteem, as anything less than benign. Superego functioning is pre-autonomous, pregenital in origin, and is experienced as a foreign object that needs to be expelled on occasion in order to permit "genuine" pleasure. Failure to develop intellectual sublimation of aggressive and erotic drives: experiences intellectual curiosity and analysis as threatening. In therapy, will tend to rely on support, encouragement, and chastisement which is an overdetermined expression of his need to do to his patients what his parents did to him (coercive use of encouragement, see Beren), and his pregenital superego, which is based on coercion and an educative function. His "cause/effect reasoning" typically relies on a rationalization of a more primitive notion of causality, namely, "good behavior/reward -- bad behavior/punishment." Will tend to ward off threats to self-esteem posed by the deprecations of others by use of verbal defensiveness that is anal in origin, typically involving transforming content into quantitative characterizations, offering statements such as "He exaggerates" or "He overcompensates" (that is, "He feels 'small' and wants to make himself seem 'big'.")
1/ It is somewhat humorous to note that Freud stated that the purpose of psychoanalysis was to transform neurotic misery into common unhappiness. Perhaps the therapist should have asked: "Have you always been this miserable? Haven't you ever been simply unhappy?"