Between September 1992 and the end of June 1996 I was an out-patient at the George Washington University Medical Center Department of Psychiatry. I saw Suzanne M. Pitts, M.D. in psychotherapy from late October 1992 till the end of June 1994. In June 1993 I submitted the following letter to Dr. Pitts, which contains my reflections on a dream I recently had.
President Clinton had started his first term in office just a few months earlier, on January 20, 1993. An important element in the dream interpretation is the assassination attempt on President Reagan, which took place in March 1981, just a few months after President Reagan had taken office.
In April 1993 I filed for disability benefits from the U.S. Social Security Administration. I submitted a copy of this letter to Paul G. Yessler, M.D., an SSA consultant who performed a psychiatric assessment of me in early June 1993, in support of my disability claim.
In early July 1993 I spoke by telephone with a former coworker from the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, where I used to work, Patricia McNeil. It was from Pat McNeil that I learned for the first, in early July 1993, that after I had been terminated by Akin Gump on October 29, 1991, my supervisor had told her employees that she was afraid that I might return to the office to kill her. At the time I wrote this letter to Dr. Pitts in June 1993, I was unaware that my supervisor had purported fears that I was potentially homicidal.
In August 1993 -- a few months after I wrote this letter -- I filed a complaint against Dr. Pitts with the D.C. Medical Board, charging her with incompetence. In late August 1993 I met with a former treating psychiatrist, Stanley R. Palombo, M.D. to complain about Dr. Pitts and to discuss my Medical Board Complaint about her.
I recall that when I met with Dr. Palombo in late August 1993 he said: "You're striking out." He meant that I was engaging in an act of aggression against Dr. Pitts. Note, however, that the term "striking out" is also a baseball term. Perhaps Dr. Palombo was saying "You are simply aggressing against Dr. Pitts" and "You're just going to end up back in the dugout." In other words, he was saying "You are going nowhere with this complaint."
An index of all my dream interpretations can be found at the following site:
June 18, 1993
3801 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Suzanne M. Pitts, MD
Dept. of Psychiatry
GW Univ. Medical Center
2150 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20037
Dear Dr. Pitts:
This letter memorializes and amplifies my narrative of, and associations to, a dream [I reported] at our session on Wednesday June 16, 1993. I had the dream upon retiring on Tuesday evening June 15, 1993.
DREAM OF “MURDER IN THE LOBBY”
I am in the lobby of an unidentified building. The lobby is crowded with people, all milling about. Present in the lobby is a former co-worker at Akin Gump, Jesse Raben. An unidentified individual enters the room, pulls out a gun, and shoots Jesse Raben, then walks out. Jesse Raben falls to the floor; he lies prostate, unconscious, and bleeding profusely. I have the feeling that everyone in the room knows Jesse, but does nothing. They seem to ignore what has just occurred. I feel I have a special mission to save Jesse Raben. I telephone an ambulance. I am overcome with a feeling of futility. I think that even if a doctor arrives in a very brief time, Jesse Raben will have bled to death before he can be treated.
[The issue of bleeding to death is a theme in The Dream of the Blue Oxford:
1. In the session on Tuesday June 15, 1993, I complain about my failure to make progress in therapy, and restate my desire to be re-assigned to another psychiatrist. The resistance has a phallic-sadistic quality characterized by “vituperations, disparagements and threats” directed at the therapist. See Reich, W. Character Analysis at 59 (Noonday: 1990). The therapist, a resident, states that if I want to be reassigned, I should telephone Dr. Tsao to request reassignment. I had met with Dr. Tsao on May 28, 1993 to request such a reassignment; that request was denied. I experienced my interaction with Dr. Tsao as emotionally and intellectually satisfying. Dr. Tsao is apparently of Chinese ethnic origin.
2. On the afternoon of Tuesday June 15, 1993 I took a walk down Connecticut Avenue. Upon reaching the intersection of Connecticut and T street, I turn down T street. The Washington Hilton Hotel is located at this intersection. I look at the hotel building and notice a sign that says “Ballroom Entrance.”
[Note the word "Ballroom" and its possible association to the game of baseball, a topic discussed below.]
A shiver runs through me at the moment I recognize that this is the entrance where President Ronald Reagan was wounded in an assassination attempt in March 1981. (President Reagan was treated in the emergency room at George Washington University Medical Center. I recall once hearing that President Reagan had nearly bled to death--that a delay of only a few minutes in his treatment would have been fatal.)
[In December 1988 I attended the Akin Gump Christmas party, held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown. I spent a few minutes speaking to Jesse Raben at the party. I remember that, earlier in the evening, when I arrived at the party I saw Jesse Raben chatting with J.D. Neary -- the firm's legal assistant coordinator -- in the hotel lobby. Jesse Raben had a look of shock when he saw me enter; word "on the street" at the firm was that I was extremely shy and unsociable -- not someone who would show up at a party alone. It was as if a shiver had run through Jesse Raben when he saw me enter the lobby.
An important theme in the Dream of the Four Miltons is "hotels," particularly the similarities and dissimilarities between hotels and hospitals.
3. On Monday evening June 14, 1993 I saw a movie on television, Stealing Home. The movie concerned an ex-baseball player (portrayed by Mark Harmon; Mark Harmon had previously portrayed a physician on the television series St. Elsewhere) who returns home after the death of his childhood friend (portrayed by Jodie Foster; John Hinckley, who shot President Reagan, had been obsessed with the actress Jodie Foster.) Most of the movie is a flashback that portrays an adolescent friendship between two males, including the ex-baseball player.
[Stealing Home focuses on the childhood of Harmon's character ("Billy Wyatt"), especially the time the character spent with his father with whom he had a very affectionate relationship, and with best friend Alan Appleby with whom he had a great friendship full of adventure, challenge, conversation, struggles, learning, and more.
The fantasy of having a special friend or twin sibling is an important element in the Dream of the Blue Oxford:
The fantasy of having a twin sibling is oedipal in origin according to the psychoanalyst Dorothy Burlingham. As revenge against the parents who have not gratified the latency child's wishes, the child murders the parents in fantasy, but erects in substitution a fantasy of having a twin sibling who will comfort the child in his loneliness. The ensuing fantasy friendship between the twin siblings is full of adventure, challenge, conversation, struggles, learning, and more.]
4. In early August 1989 I had dinner with Jesse Raben and his roommate at a Chinese Restaurant. I asked Jesse if he played softball. He said no. He asked me if I played softball. I said, “No, because I throw like this” (I gestured in a manner suggesting a female ball toss). Jesse said, “Because you’re a homosexual? I said, “Yea.”
5. Jesse Raben’s father is a physician, Dr. Milton Raben.
6. Some time later in August 1989 a co-worker at Akin Gump stated to me, “We’re all afraid of you. We’re all afraid you’re going to buy a gun, bring it in and shoot everybody. Even the manager of your apartment building [Elaine Wranik] is afraid of you.”
7. Act III of Wagner’s Gotterdammerung depicts the death of the hero Siegfried.
Gunther: What do I hear?
(Two ravens [Raben] fly from a bush, circle over Siegfried and fly away over the Rhine).
Hagen: Can you read the speech of those ravens?
(Siegfried starts up quickly and looks after the ravens, turning his back towards Hagen).
Hagen: Revenge they rouse in me!
(He thrusts his spear into Siegfried’s back, Gunther catches his arm, too late).
Gunther and the Men: Hagen, what are you doing?
Siegfried swings his shield aloft with both hands to crush Hagen with it; his strength leaves him; the shield falls back and he himself falls upon it).
Hagen: (pointing at the prostate figure.) I have avenged perjury! [Meineid recht ich!]
(He turns coolly away and gradually disappears over the hills where his retreating form is for some time visible. Gunther, who has sworn an oath of Blood-Brotherhood with Siegfried, is seized with anguish, and bends down by Siegfried’s side. The men gather in sympathy around the dying Siegfried. Dusk commences to fall with the apparition of the ravens [Raben]).
[Note that Siegfried and Gunther had sworn an oath of blood-brotherhood. The opera Gotterdammerung -- The Dusk of the Gods -- ends in the destruction of the world. In psychoanalytical terms two important themes of the opera parallel the fantasy of the twin sibling described by Dorothy Burlingham. The latency child "destroys his world" and erects in fantasy a twin sibling who will comfort him in his loneliness.
7. In the days immediately prior to the dream, I contemplate filing a complaint with the D.C. Attorney Disciplinary Board against the Akin Gump attorney who terminated my employment, Dennis M. Race. (An attempt to “avenge perjury.”) The D.C. Code of Professional Responsibility contains rules specifically applying to the ethical conduct of attorneys in their capacity as employers, rules that may have been violated in my case.
I fear that if I file a complaint that I will be depicted as a troublemaker. In the days immediately prior to the dream, I think of a clever means of avoiding the allegation of spiteful troublemaker. I will advise the Disciplinary Board that I am licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania and plan in the near future to apply for admission on motion to the D.C. Bar; that I have information regarding the possible unethical practices of an attorney-manager; that I wish to inquire whether my failure to report these possible ethical violations will prejudice my application for admission. In effect, I will be soliciting an invitation from the Disciplinary Board to file a complaint.
This plan, which in psychoanalytical terms suggests the use of passive means to carry out a phallic-sadistic revenge, may be psychologically revealing.
[Paragraph 7 is misnumbered in the original document.]
8. In March 1981, at the time of the attempted assassination of President Reagan, I was in my second year of law school. I learned of the assassination attempt while in a class on “Remedies" taught by Professor Jerome L. Sloan. Professor Sloan canceled the class upon being advised by a student in the class of what had happened. When I walked out of the classroom into the lobby area of the law school building, students were milling about. Many students appeared to have a strained mournful expression. The atmosphere in the lobby was noticeably subdued. (The Temple University Law School Building is named the "Charles Klein" building. At the end of the session on Wednesday June 16, 1993, I state to the therapist that our discussion is starting to sound “Kleinian.”)
[I had an aunt named Ella Klein who was married to a man named Leon Klein, but who went by the name "Chuck." I refer to Ella Klein in The Dream of the Blue Oxford. Ella Klein used to live on Oxford Street in North Philadelphia, a largely Jewish neighborhood.
The term Kleinian refers to the theories of the ground-breaking psychoanalyst Melanie Klein. The work of Otto Kernberg, M.D. in object relations is an offshoot of Kleinian theory.
9. In about 1982 I read in a newspaper article that Professor Sloan’s license to practice law had been suspended for six months by the Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board. It had been determined that Jerome Sloan had forged the signature of a dead person.
10. Students in Professor Sloan’s class on “Remedies” on occasion complained to him about his reaching technique, which was said to be perfunctory. Professor Sloan used to flip through the assigned cases in the casebook without any discussion and say, “This case is the same as the last case. It’s all the same case.” Case after case he would say, “It’s all the same case.” (I frequently complained to my psychiatrist that she fails to see distinguishing features in my case.) (I own a recording of Act III of Gotterdammerung, sung in English, in which the role of Siegfried is sung by a tenor named Alberto Remedios).
[Jerry Sloan was one of Jeffrey Orchinik's law professors when he was a student at Temple Law School. Jeffrey Orchinik, Esq. was an associate at Sagot & Jennings when I clerked at that law firm in Philadelphia in 1981-1982. One one occasion at Sagot & Jennings I heard Orchinik talking about Sloan; how he used to say "It's all the same case."
[Jesse Raben graduated law school in the spring of 1993, at about the time of this dream. An unconscious element of the dream may have been my feelings of envy toward him. That envy would parallel the feelings of spite I expressed against Dennis Race, Esq. and Suzanne Pitts, M.D., both of whom were targets of complaints I filed against them with their respective professional licensing boards.
The character Siegfried was murdered by Hagen partly out of spite.]
11. On occasion I happened to see professor Sloan at a Philadelphia Orchestra concert at the Academy of Music. In a strange coincidence, I noticed that seated near me was a Temple Law School student. I pointed out to the student that Jerry Sloan was seated nearby. She looked over at Sloan and said “Let’s kill him.”
12. Professor Sloan struck me as having a high intellect and a unique and charismatic personality. He had a law degree from a French university and, on occasion, referred in class to French legal principles. I recall especially the phrase, “Les droits morales d’artistes” [the “moral rights of artists”].
13. In my interpretation of the dream I pointed out to the therapist, Dr. Pitts, that the dream suggested the oral injury I suffered as a small child--a puncture wound in the soft palate. In later years, in recounting the incident, my mother used to say that I bled profusely and that she feared that I would bleed to death before she could get me to a doctor. The incident occurred in the kitchen while my mother was talking on the telephone.
[The issue of bleeding to death is a theme in The Dream of the Blue Oxford:
At the time of the injury my pediatrician, Dr. Bloom, was on vacation. I was treated by a young physician to whom Dr. Bloom had referred his patients, Dr. Schley. I assume that my mother’s inability to contact Dr. Bloom upon the occurrence of the injury heightened my mother’s sense of panic.
I assume that in terms of the transference that the young Dr. Schley may share some identity with the young resident, Dr. Pitts, and that the absent Dr. Bloom may share some identity with Dr. Wiener/Dr. Tsao.
[Jerry Wiener, M.D. was the Chairman of the Psychiatry Department at GW in 1993.]