Thursday, August 05, 2010

"Deferral of Authorship" and Political Retaliation

In several letters I addressed in the fall of 1992 to my then-treating psychiatrist, Suzanne M. Pitts, M.D. I described a process that I termed "deferral of authorship" whereby Sigmund Freud communicated in his writings his own ideas, but had those ideas expressed by third parties. 

For example in a letter dated December 21, 1992 addressed to Dr. Pitts, I wrote the following:

4.  Freud describes his “disrespectful thoughts” concerning his father.  Freud refers specifically to the dream image of the man standing on the stool as symbolizing the father having passed a stool (fecal mass) post mortem.  Perhaps significantly, Freud communicates his “disrespectful thoughts” by reference to an anecdote in which the psychological significance of the dream thought is revealed by the statements of third parties.  This may be an instance of Freud’s “deferral of authorship” of an unpleasant thought to a third party--an issue that I raised in the letter in connection with Freud’s authorship of Moses and Monotheism and Thomas Woodrow Wilson: A Psychological Study.  In the case of the Wilson study Freud deferred his "disrespectful thoughts” about the political father figure, Wilson, to his co-author and friend, William Bullitt, just as in his dream analysis he defers, by means of reference to an anecdote, to a friend the elucidation of a “disrespectful thought" concerning his own father.  Thus, my earlier letter about Freud’s and Bullitt’s authorship of the Wilson study appears to be related to Freud’s dream and possibly to my dream.  Freud’s fears of offending the memory of his father, as revealed in the method of presentation of his dream analysis, may be related to (1) Freud’s deferral of authorship to Bullitt to communicate disrespectful thoughts about Wilson and to (2) the fears of political retaliation that Freud experienced in connection with publication of the Wilson study and Moses.  Freud’s seemingly realistic fears of political retaliation in connection with the publication of Wilson and Moses might have encapsulated in disguised form Freud’s irrational fears associated with offending the memory of “the father.”  Further, one wonders whether Freud’s observations regarding absurd dream thoughts might shed some light on the significance and motivations underlying the implausible conclusions in Moses.  That is, might the speculations and conclusions in Moses be interpreted as a species of “absurd ‘dream-thoughts’” that conceal “ridicule and derision” of the father?)  [In Moses, Freud speculates that the prophet Moses was not a Hebrew at all, but rather the biological son of Pharaoh, and that the monotheistic religion offered by Moses to the Hebrews was actually a modification of the sun worship of Pharaoh Akhnaton.]

Be that as it may.

On Friday January 15, 2010 two officers from the U.S. Department of Justice interviewed me at my residence about a law enforcement matter.  The officers were concerned about the tone and content of my writings on this blog, My Daily Struggles, which they termed "angry."  The officers stated a particular concern about the fact that I had quoted verbatim a federal official who had said in a proceedings, "This case has been screaming for attention for years." 

I used the quote to express my feelings about my job termination in October 1991 (and related issues) by the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld.  In effect, by means of quotation I used the official's statement to express my own feelings; it is an instance of what I had earlier described, in late 1992, as "deferral of authorship."  I was using the quotation of a statement by a federal official to escape responsibility for my own thoughts.

I had imputed to Freud the desire to evade the political consequences of expressing certain ideas by having those ideas communicated by third parties.  In retrospect, I find it uncanny that my own quotation of the statement of a federal official brought about the very political consequences -- in my case, a threat assessment investigation undertaken by the U.S. Department of Justice -- that I had asserted Freud had sought to avoid.

As Dr. K.R. Eissler once said, "Mysterious are the ways of the repetition compulsion."

1 comment:

Gary Freedman said...

In a note at the conclusion of Moses and Monotheism Freud writes about the political considerations that caused anxiety for him as he worked on the book in Austria:

II. June 1938 (London)

The exceptionally great difficulties which have weighed on me during the composition of this
essay dealing with Moses inner misgivings as well as external hindrances are the reason why
this third and final part comes to have two different prefaces which contradict, indeed even cancel, each other. For in the short interval between writing the two prefaces the outer conditions of the author have radically changed. Formerly I lived under the protection of the Catholic Church and feared that by publishing the essay I should lose that protection and that the practitioners and students of psycho-analysis in Austria would be forbidden their work. Then, suddenly, the German invasion broke in on us and Catholicism proved to be, as the Bible has it, " but a broken reed. In the certainty of persecution now not only because of my work, but also because of my "race" I left with many friends the city which from early childhood, through 78 years, had been a home to me.

I found the kindliest welcome in beautiful, free, generous England. Here I live now, a welcome guest, relieved from that oppression and happy that I may again speak and write I almost said "think" as I want or have to. I dare now to make public the last part of my essay.

There are no more external hindrances or at least none that need alarm one.