Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Proust Questionnaire

The Proust Questionnaire is a questionnaire about one's personality. Its name and modern popularity as a form of interview is owed to the responses given by the French writer Marcel Proust.

At the end of the nineteenth century, when Proust was still in his teens, he answered a questionnaire in an English-language confession album belonging to his friend Antoinette, daughter of future French President Félix Faure, entitled "An Album to Record Thoughts, Feelings, etc." At that time, it was a fad among English families to answer such a list of questions that revealed the tastes and aspirations of the taker.

Proust answered the questionnaire several times in his life, always with enthusiasm. The original manuscript of his answers of 1890, at the time of his volunteer internship or some little time afterwards, titled "by Marcel Proust himself," was found in 1924. It was auctioned on May 27, 2003 for the sum of €102,000.

The following are my responses to The Proust Questionnaire; the questions are based on those featured in the monthly Vanity Fair Magazine to which notable celebrities respond.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

To be at the beach at about 5:00 in the afternoon at the end of a gloriously beautiful day.  It's what I call my Nate Fisher mood.

What is your greatest fear?

Debility in old age.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Sigmund Freud

Which living person do you most admire?

The Justice Department will not allow me to answer that question.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Two traits are tied for first place: intolerance and exploitiveness.

What is your favorite journey?

From Washington, D.C. to Atlantic City.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Goodness.  I don't even know what that means.  Republicans think President W. Bush was good.  So what does it mean to be good?

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

"According to Freud . . . "

What or who is the greatest love of your life?


When and where were you happiest?

On the beach in Atlantic City at about 5:00 in the afternoon at the end of a gloriously beautiful day.  Also, sitting on a park bench with my friend Craig and talking about nothing.

Which talent would you most like to have?

To play the piano -- well.

What is your current state of mind?


What do you consider your greatest achievement?

My book, Significant Moments.

What is your most treasured possession?

I don't value earthly possessions.  So I would have to say my mind.

Where would you like to live?

Miami Beach.

What is your favorite occupation?

Listening to music.

What is your most marked characteristic?

My stubbornness.

What do you most value in your friends?

I don't have any friends.  But if I did, I would value tolerance.

How would you like to die.


If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be?

I like my life.  I'd like to do it all over again.

What is your motto?

If you feel you've gotten screwed, make a fuss.

Akin Gump: White Collar Defense

White Collar Defense and Corporate Investigations

Criminal investigations confront clients with defining moments. They may face loss of productivity, loss of assets and even loss of freedom. When facing criminal charges, an individual or corporation also confronts the immeasurable costs associated with damage to one's good name.

The white collar defense and corporate investigations practice at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP dedicates its collective energy toward fending off, and, if necessary, dealing with serious criminal allegations to guide our clients through the most perilous situations they may ever face. For more than 30 years, Akin Gump lawyers have maintained active roles in all stages of the investigative process. Our advantage lies in the perspective gained from directing cases for the prosecution, leading government inquiries, defending well-known public figures, influencing major congressional investigations and managing highly sensitive internal investigations. Prosecutors and agency officials respect our integrity, principles and thorough preparation.

Our Approach

Akin Gump’s white collar defense practice is among the most sophisticated criminal defense practices in the world. We represent corporate and individual clients of significant stature in cases requiring the utmost discretion and procedural know-how. Yet our approach is simple: obtain a favorable result by assembling the best team of experienced lawyers and other professionals.

The cases we handle involve high-profile, high-stakes issues. As such, our clients need a rapid response system for urgent problems. At Akin Gump, we are positioned to evaluate immediately client needs, put a team into action and quickly bring the case to resolution. We are most successful when our team joins a case as early as possible. Our ability to control the development of facts and operate as one uniform team—in coordination with public relations, investor relations and employee relations professionals—allows the client to maintain a semblance of order and continue business operations. Early involvement also means that we lead the case in a manner that averts other problems for the client down the road.

Although our primary role is that of counsel, being an effective advocate requires earning your trust as an ally. For anyone enduring the difficult circumstances of an investigation or grand jury proceeding, there is no substitute for knowing that your lawyer is both your advisor and your champion. Through the ups and downs of the investigative roller coaster, we work diligently to provide a 24/7 support network that enables the client to maintain peace of mind.

Our Team

Akin Gump’s white collar practice comprises more than 50 lawyers. Our team members possess a wealth of experience derived from prior careers as trial lawyers with the Department of Justice (DOJ), U.S. Attorneys’ offices, legislative bodies and congressional committees, as well as from years in private practice. The former federal prosecutors on our team afford invaluable insight on how the government approaches its cases.

The comprehensive nature of Akin Gump’s internal resources is hard to match. More than 800 lawyers around the globe provide ready access to extraordinary knowledge and skill in litigation, corporate, securities, financial, tax, intellectual property, insurance, public policy, labor, environmental, real estate and health care, among other areas. Together, they offer clients a criminal, civil and regulatory defense powerhouse across the spectrum of business litigation.

Our lawyers remain on the cutting edge of legislative and regulatory developments through focused research and analysis on a wide range of white collar crime topics. Our knowledge and experience in complex securities issues keeps us in the forefront of handling complex criminal and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigations.

Companies doing business in the United States (or having a connection to the United States) increasingly have found themselves as defendants facing charges of racketeering in suits involving the wide range of state and federal criminal laws that constitute predicate acts under RICO. In addition, it has become commonplace for businesses to use the statute as plaintiffs in their disputes with other businesses and labor unions. Akin Gump has a significant breadth and depth of experience on such issues, including criminal RICO cases and criminal matters incidental to Civil RICO litigation.

Collectively, the firm’s members are experienced in litigating RICO cases at every stage, from brainstorming the case and drafting the complaint or defenses, through motions, practice and discovery to concluding in trial where necessary. These cases have included allegations raising issues as to accounting malpractice, lender liability, corporate governance disputes, limited partnership disputes, securities fraud, employment terminations, industrial espionage, management disputes with labor unions over “corporate campaigns” and antitrust claims. A number of these cases have involved cutting-edge RICO issues in their respective jurisdictions or industries and have drawn substantial attention from the media.

Akin Gump has broad experience representing clients throughout the world on matters involving the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Our lawyers represent clients in a wide array of FCPA matters including criminal and civil litigation, conducting internal company investigations, counseling in proposed business transactions and establishing corporate FCPA compliance policies. We have represented clients with FCPA issues in numerous countries around the world, including Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Bosnia, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, England, Egypt, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, Romania, Russia, São Tomé and Principe, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Zaire and Zambia.

Our representations have included a wide array of firms and industries, from small to very large, including companies engaged in the aerospace, insurance, foreign military sales, pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, telecommunications, banking, construction and hospitality industries, among others.

Our leadership skills extend beyond the courtroom and boardroom to the classroom and other community forums. Our professional activities include speaking at American Bar Association functions; teaching at the National Institute of Trial Advocacy; judging the National White Collar Crime Mock Trial Invitational at the Georgetown University Law Center; and lecturing on trial practice and criminal procedure at various law schools, government, Inns of Court and continuing legal education groups. Team members are sought after as legal commentators for various television programs that examine current political and legal issues. Our community involvement regularly includes handling criminal cases on a pro bono basis.

Our Services

Our worldwide white collar criminal litigation practice handles all phases in the defense of individuals and corporations, including state and federal prosecutions, administrative enforcement actions, inquiries by inspectors general and special prosecutors, internal investigations in the United States and transnationally, and the preparation and trial of complex criminal matters.

Akin Gump’s criminal litigation lawyers have the considerable know-how required to advise and represent clients facing virtually any problem. Specifically, we handle cases involving the following legal issues and more:

antitrust, including price-fixing and bid-rigging
bank fraud
bankruptcy crimes
bribery, gratuities and public corruption
clemency and pardon applications
commodities futures trading fraud
compliance programs
computer fraud
congressional investigations and hearings
currency violations
customs import and export violations
debarment from government contracting
Economic Espionage Act
environmental crimes
Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) violations
False Claims Act
false statements and perjury
Federal Election Campaign Act
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)
health care fraud
housing fraud
identity theft
immigration-related crimes
insurance-related crimes
Interstate Travel in Aid of Racketeering Act
mail fraud
Medicare fraud
military courts martial
money laundering
obstruction of justice
OSHA and labor code violations
passport and visa fraud
Patriot Act
procurement fraud
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO)
securities fraud
tax fraud
trade secrets theft
wire fraud.

High-Profile Cases

Many well-known names and faces turn to Akin Gump for representation in criminal investigations and prosecutions, congressional and agency investigations, and impeachments. Our clients have included cabinet members, judicial figures, senators, congressional leaders, governors, political appointees, public officials, government contractors, Fortune 100 companies, corporate officers and directors, and countless other influential figures.

We have represented well-known executives and some of the biggest corporations, accounting firms and investment funds in the world in critical criminal investigations. In many of these cases, we successfully shielded our clients from any charges being brought and they avoided even the unfavorable publicity of a public case. We are also widely recognized for our representation of prominent leaders on high-profile issues, including the commissioner of Major League Baseball in the investigation of Pete Rose; a former attorney general in Watergate; a U.S. senator before the Senate Ethics Committee in the Keating Five hearings; and a former Arizona governor in connection with a federal trial regarding his financial affairs. When a sitting federal judge was falsely accused of involvement with drug dealers, Akin Gump worked to avoid what would have been only the third indictment against a federal judge in U.S. history.

We never accept that a case is hopeless. When information from confidential sources prompted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ground a Texas helicopter company with a 29-year accident-free record, we worked to prevent it from suffering devastating losses to its revenue and reputation. We represented a savings and loan institution in the first major criminal prosecution of a failed Maryland savings and loan, and served as counsel to a large investment firm, a leading ship building company, a major aircraft manufacturer and a major petroleum company in government probes. Our lawyers also represented a baseball legend in a civil action to recover money and goods obtained by a fraudulent scheme orchestrated by his former partner. When a CEO was indicted in the Southern District of New York before we represented him we succeeded in getting the indictment dismissed. In numerous other cases, only our client avoided indictment while others were charged and convicted.

Congressional Inquiries

Akin Gump’s representation of government targets and witnesses includes involvement in every major congressional investigation since the Watergate hearings. In addition to representing a former attorney general in Watergate, we served as counsel to individuals involved in Koreagate, an Air Force colonel in the Iran/Contra hearings, a former secretary of the Treasury before the Senate Whitewater Committee and a witness in the Clinton impeachment proceedings. Our lawyers also represented a former Nevada senator before the Senate Ethics Committee and an Arizona governor before the House Banking Committee’s Subcommittee on General Oversight and Investigations.

Recently, we defended the New Hampshire chief justice in that state’s first-ever impeachment trial. On a continuing basis, Akin Gump’s criminal litigation practice represents witnesses and assists clients in their preparation for testimony before various congressional committees.

Internal Investigations

Akin Gump lawyers conduct numerous sensitive internal investigations on behalf of corporations, including those focusing on price-fixing, money laundering, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Trading with the Enemy Act, professional sports, theft of proprietary information, Food and Drug Administration compliance, payola, bid-rigging and insider trading. In addition, we conduct compliance reviews for financial institutions and reviews for possible violations of export control and trade boycott violations.

In addition to conducting investigations for Major League Baseball, our lawyers have performed discreet internal investigations for another major sports league; a “Big Five” accounting firm under investigation by a federal grand jury; the Independent Review Panel investigating the Los Angeles Police Department; a major international car manufacturer in a DOJ investigation; individuals and corporations during various phases of SEC investigations; and numerous other organizations and individuals in the public eye.

Stanley R. Palombo, M.D. -- Book Reviews

The following links to book reviews written by Stanley R. Palombo, M.D., a Washington, D.C. psychiatrist in private practice.  I was a patient of Dr. Palombo's in the year 1990.

GW Initial Assessment: Peculiarity

I underwent a two-part psychiatric assessment at the George Washington University Medical Center Department of Psychiatry, conducted by a third-year resident named Napoleon Cuenco, M.D.  The interviews were held on September 8 and September 15, 1992.

At the first interview on September 8, 1992, a GW staff psychiatrist was present in addition to Dr. Cuenco.  He just sat and listened.  Who was that psychiatrist and why was he present during an initial assessment?  Was it GW protocol to have a staff psychiatrist present during an initial assessment conducted by a psychiatry resident?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Night Can Last Only So Long

DOJ Critical of Care at St. Elizabeths Hospital -- 2006

In the year 2006, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a report that was critical of patient care at St. Elizabeths Hospital.

Deficiencies in mental health services at St. Elizabeths should come as no surprise to consumers of those services.  Israella Y. Bash, Ph.D., one of my former treating psychologists, used to practice at St. Elizabeths.  My experience with Dr. Bash was unusual to say the least.

Dr. Bash is the coauthor of a paper titled The Determination of Malingering, published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.

On June 26, 2006 D.C. Council Member David Catania, Chair of the Health Committee, held a hearing on the Justice Department report.  Mr. Catania has practiced law at the D.C. firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, where I was employed as a paralegal from 1988 to 1991.  Effective October 29, 1991, the firm terminated my employment reportedly because it had learned that I suffered from a serious mental illness that might dispose me to become violent.  See Freedman v. D.C. Department of Human Rights, D.C.C.A. no. 96-CV-961 (Sept. 1, 1998).

When a psychiatry patient fakes a mental illness, it's called malingering.  When that patient's employer  invidiously certifies that patient as mentally ill based on no evidence at all -- and the D.C. government concurs -- what is that called?  Mr. Catania?  Anyone?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It Was Her Handwriting and Her Letterhead

The Night Can Last Only So Long

Political significance has attached to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Leonard Bernstein conducted a version of the 9th in Berlin, with "Freiheit" ("Freedom") replacing "Freude" ("Joy"), to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall during Christmas 1989.

GW: Concerns About the Psychotic Delusions of a Paranoid Schizophrenic?

I received psychotherapy as an out-patient at the Department of Psychiatry of The George Washington University Medical Center, from September 1992 to June 1996.  GW psychiatrists diagnosed me with psychotic mental illness: bipolar disorder, delusional (paranoid) disorder, and later paranoid schizophrenia.

GW seems unusually interested in posts I have blogged about the psychiatry department in the last few days.  I say "unusually interested" because, by GW's own account, I am a deluded psychotic.  Why would psychiatrists be concerned with the insane delusions of a paranoid schizophrenic?  A tad odd, don't you think?

The George Washington University (128.xxxxx.230) 

Washington, District Of Columbia

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Gertrude R. Ticho, M.D. -- a GW Nexus

I worked as a paralegal at the D.C. law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld from 1988 to 1991.  I was terminated on October 29, 1991, reportedly after Akin Gump's managers reviewed a complaint of harassment I had lodged against my supervisor and others at the firm with Gertrude R. Ticho, M.D.  According to Akin Gump, Dr. Ticho advised the firm that my harassment complaint was the result of a psychiatric symptom, "ideas of reference," which caused me to attach a negative meaning to trivial events and which might dispose me to commit an act of violence.

Dr. Ticho was a psychiatrist/psychoanalyst in private practice.  She served as a clinical professor of psychiatry at The George Washington University Medical Center Department of Psychiatry.  Reportedly, she was a personal friend of Akin Gump manager, Malcolm Lassman.  Her husband, Ernst Ticho, Ph.D. was the mentor of Otto Kernberg, M.D., past president of the International Psychoanalytic Association and a world-renowned psychiatrist and psychoanalytical theoretician.

Dr. Ticho died in the year 2004.

Akin Gump admits that it spoke with Dr. Ticho about me in 1991.  According to the District of Columbia Office of Attorney General I formed a genuine, good-faith belief in 1990 that Akin Gump conferred routinely with Stanley R. Palombo, M.D., in violation of the D.C. Mental Health Information Act.  Dr. Palombo, like Dr. Ticho, was a clinical professor of psychiatry at GW.

Inspector General of the United States -- Initial Contact 1999

My first contact with the Inspector General of the United States was a letter I sent to the office in July 1999.  I didn't not receive a reply.

I sent a nearly identical letter to the Honorable Jon Newman, former chief judge of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals (New York City).  Judge Newman replied.

Monday, September 27, 2010

What Do I Think?

What do I think?  You want my opinion?  This is just my inference, because I don't know what this person has in his pocket.  There's no way any reasonable person could arrive at any definitive conclusions.  You don't actually see the object.  But my opinion -- my crazy opinion -- is that it's a penis.  But, hey, that's me.

I admit, it could be anything.  It could be a key chain.  It could be a some kind of cell phone.  It could be some kind of weird plumbing device.  It could be nothing at all -- maybe it's just the way the cloth is folded.

But my crazy idea is that if something unidentified looks like a particular object, and the object is located in the place where you would expect to find that object -- it's probably the object you have in mind.

Likewise, you have an employer that offers nonsensical reasons for a job termination, you have a medical center that makes nonsensical diagnoses, you have a librarian that calls the police for no reason -- it looks like they're all in cahoots; it looks like racketeering.  Of course, yes, it could be anything.  But, I'm just telling you what it looks like to me.  Then again, maybe it's -- as they say -- the way the cloth is folded.  

The Uncanny and a Forbidden Phrase: "The Powers that Be"

Novels, short stories, plays, movies, often seem to have coincidental events that occur in them. Why? Is it because they reflect real life, which is often coincidental? Or is their occurrence actually more coincidental than real life, and the author (whether knowingly or not) uses these coincidences as a structural device or for some thematic purpose? What are these coincidences that we all seem to experience? Freud defines them as the uncanny, and while he acknowledges that many people experience them, he rationally explains them away in a manner that doesn't account for their frequent use and presence in narrative form. 

Freud defines the "uncanny" in his essay by that name, by noting that its opposite has attained a similar meaning to it.  The uncanny is both familiar and strange, comfortable and dangerous, intimate and obscure, known and inaccessible to knowledge. The uncanny is the repetition (hence, familiarity) of coincidental circumstances or events, with no apparent causal reason (hence, mysterious and hidden). Freud uses the example of the repetition of a certain number, say 62, that one might see several times in a day. "The recurrence of the same situations, things and events . . . awaken an uncanny feeling . . . it is only this factor of involuntary repetition which surrounds with an uncanny atmosphere what would otherwise be innocent enough, and forces upon us the idea of something fateful and unescapable where otherwise we should have spoken of 'chance' only."

The significance of a lack of a known reason or cause for these mysterious coincidences is that they then become open for us to ascribe them a cause, or a meaning. Even if we fail at giving them a particular meaning, we still assume that there is some meaning behind them that we have yet to come to grasp. "We do feel this to be 'uncanny' and unless a man is utterly hardened and proof against the lure of superstition he will be tempted to ascribe a secret meaning to this obstinate recurrence of a number, taking it, perhaps as an indication of the span of life allotted to him . . . Not long ago an ingenious scientist attempted to reduce coincidences of this kind to certain laws, and so deprive them of their uncanny effect."

The uncanny appeals to us since, in its lack of no known cause or reason for the juxtaposition of two uncanny events, it implies that there IS a cause or reason beyond our understanding. Hence, the mystery of this randomly ordered event suggests that the world is ordered, without our knowledge, and all is safe, stable, secure, and comfortable. No surprises. Ironically, it is the hiddenness and secretiveness of the cause of uncanniness that reassures us that the world is known and stable.

However, Freud, like the scientist he refers to, kindly removes the mystery for us. He postulates an unconscious instinctual
repetition compulsion principle to explain the uncanny. "The quality of uncanniness can only come from the circumstance of the 'double' being a creation dating back to a very early mental stage . . . a regression to a time when the ego was not yet sharply differentiated from the external world and from other persons."  He says "all obsessional neurotics I have observed are able to relate [uncanny] experiences"  and "whatever reminds us of this inner repetition-compulsion is perceived as uncanny."  Uncanniness is something repressed which recurs, simply "a morbid anxiety;" this uncanniness is "nothing new or foreign but something familiar and old, established in the mind that has been estranged only be the process of repression." Uncanniness is not something inherently meaningful, revealing some truth about the nature of the universe itself; it is only something that "ought to have been kept concealed, but which has nevertheless come to light."  Uncanniness arises from the unconscious, then, and is a product and element of the unconscious emerging into the light of the conscious. 


The following paper discusses the possible psychological consequences of a case of scarlet fever that I contracted in childhood at about age three.  My pediatrician at the time linked the scarlet fever infection to my practice of drinking spoiled milk from a baby bottle.  I wrote the paper on January 21, 2005 and posted it on my blog later that year.

The paper is a paraphrase of a paper titled Ibsen: Creativity, Criticism, and Self-State Transformation by Annette and Frank Lachman.  

Uncannily, I was interviewed in January 2010 by law enforcement officers of the U.S. Department of Justice because of concerns they had about my use of the phrase “The Powers That Be” on this blog, My Daily Struggles, in the fall of 2009 -- a quote I had borrowed from a federal official who had used the phrase in the year 2009.  I had earlier used that very phrase in the year 2005 in the following paper in a significant way.  Moreover, I had provided a copy of this paper to my former treating psychiatrist, Abbas Jama, M.D. on -- I believe -- Thursday January 7, 2010.  It was the following week, on Tuesday January 12, 2010 that Justice Department officers showed up at my home to interview me about my use of the phrase "The Powers That Be" (and other related issues).  (The interview was actually held on Friday January 15, 2010).

Significant Moments: Self-States and Their Transformation

My use of the term self-state draws on contributions from several sources: Stern's and Sander's discussions of state transformation and the self-regulating other and Kohut's discussion of self-states as noted in self-state dreams.

When used by infant researchers, state refers specifically to variations in sleep and wakefulness that occur as the infant passes between crying and alert or quiet activity, drowsiness and sleep, wet discomfort and dry discomfort, hunger and satiation. Different states affect how things are perceived, how those perceptions are integrated, and how such information is processed.

State transformations in early life accrue to both the child's self-regulation and to the expectation that mutual regulation with the caretakers will facilitate or interfere in regulating one's affects and states. Thus, early state transformations are associated with mastery or control over one's own experience, and expectations that affect regulation can (or cannot) be shared with the self-regulating other.

With the advent of symbolic capacities and increasing elaboration upon one's subjective experience, self-states in the child and adult include the domain of the self in a psychological sense. Post infancy self-state transformations may increase a sense of control, mastery, or agency, but in the case of traumatic self-state transformations, such states as devastation, outrage, or fragmentation may become dominant.

The subjective discomfort of painful self-states provides an impetus for finding means by which such states can be transformed. A creative endeavor, one means of transforming one's self-state, enhances the range of the self-regulation. Furthermore, in the context of mutual regulations, expectations of a responsive environment shift the state of the self along the dimension of fragmentation-intactness toward greater cohesion and along the dimension of depletion-vitality toward an increased sense of efficacy.

Kohut described self-state dreams in which the imagery is undisguised or only minimally disguised, depicting the dreamer's sense of self. Kohut likened these dreams to Freud's discussion of dreams in traumatic neuroses, in which a traumatic event is realistically depicted. For example, a self-state may be depicted in a dream as a barren countryside, reflecting a sense of devastation and such self experiences as depression, despair, or hopelessness.

My use of self-state is broader than Stern's since I extend my perspective into adult life, and my use of the term is not confined to the dream imagery described by Kohut. Dream imagery provides a glimpse into a person's feelings of devastation and outrage, but the imagery of narratives can also convey self-states.


To construct the model scene that depicts the self-state that I attempted to recapture after I was subjected to devastating criticism in the form of job harassment and job termination, I combined facets of my life history.

For the first several years of my development, I experienced a childhood characterized by an overprotective but unempathic mother and a distant, but at times harsh, father. My father was a highly-intelligent man who settled for far less in life than he was capable. He had quit an academic high school restricted to college-bound students in the tenth grade, and worked at a factory job. Though he was raised in a strictly Orthodox Jewish family, he was the only one of seven children to marry outside the Jewish faith, in 1946. My mother was a Polish-Catholic whose father, an immigrant coal miner, died in the great swine flu epidemic following World War I. My father suffered both overt and covert anti-Semitism from my mother's family during the marriage -- itself a form of criticism. My father coped with the attacks directed at him by relying on a deeply-rooted sense of his cultural and religious superiority.

My mother doted on me, but paradoxically, had a tendency to negligent, even reckless, caretaking. At age three I developed scarlet fever, an unusual bacterial disease. I was late in being weaned from the bottle. Though I ate solid food by age three, of course, my mother indulged my desire to drink milk that had gone sour in the bottle. The pediatrician, Dr. Bloom, who diagnosed the illness attributed it to the sour milk. "And why is he still drinking from a bottle? He's too old to be drinking milk from a bottle," the doctor said. (Dr. Bloom! "Just who does Dr. Bloom think he is?"). My father was very angry, and chastised my mother bitterly for "spoiling" me, in the doctor's presence. I felt humiliated and helpless in the face of the charges leveled at me. My secret oral perversion had been discovered! The secret was out! The doctor advised my parents that scarlet fever was considered a serious public health concern, and that he was bound by law to report my illness to the city health department. Several days later, the health department posted a quarantine notice on the front door of our home (1957). My private act led to unforeseeable consequences in the form of intervention by a government authority. In effect, at age three the government had determined that I was already "potentially dangerous."

The scarlet fever incident contributed to the centrality of solitary self-experience for me. From an experience of pleasure (in drinking sour milk from the bottle), I was suddenly transformed to a state of loss and an inexplicable sense of guilt. I felt like a felon and, if you will excuse the hyperbole, "would hide when the constable approached the house." The illness ushered in transformation from a positive, pleasurable, self-absorbed state to a secret state marked by guilt and a personal blame for wrongdoing. I did not find solace for my loss. On my own, I bore both my guilt and the surprising, disturbing impact I could have on others in my immediate world and beyond: indeed, reaching out to a world beyond my imagination, in the form of governmental authorities. The illness also signaled another transformation in the direction of having to regulate painful states on my own without the support of others. Both parents were concerned with public embarrassment, rather than with the state of their child. I propose that the model scene I have constructed organized my experience as a solitary, impactful onlooker: someone whose private actions could even trigger the intervention of government authorities. It is an experience that few three-year-olds have. An emotionally porous three-year-old who is "hypersensitive to the goings-on in his environment," cf. Freedman v. D.C. Dept. of Human Rights, DCCA 96-CV-961 (Sept. 1998), will be affected by that experience.

This letter, and particularly the above anecdote, is a metaphorical bridge of speculation that connects mystery to mystery, the known with the unknown. That bridge is like a single plank that requires the support of others to form a firm foundation. I offer the following thought. My age upon contracting scarlet fever, which resulted from my mother's indulgence of my dependency needs -- age three or three-and-a-half -- is the same age my mother was when her father died of a communicable disease, influenza: in an influenza epidemic that, because of its magnitude, had evoked a vigorous public health response by government authorities nationwide. Is it possible that my "good" mother was instrumental in setting me up for serious illness? Was my mother's seeming indulgence really an expression of a strong unconscious ambivalence toward me that was a derivative of her emotional reaction to her own father's death?

Incidentally, the anecdote above parallels themes in several plays by Henrick Ibsen. In Ghosts a mother provides poison to her son to enable the son's suicide in expiation of his father's sins; An Enemy of the People pits a truth-fanatic (who discovers that the waters of a spa town are polluted) against the town's mayor and its citizens; and in The Master Builder a mother, out of a perverse sense of duty, kills her twins -- she contracted a fever because she could not stand the cold, but, despite the fever, she insisted on breast-feeding the twins, who died from her poisoned milk.

Note that I was the only male child in the family. Oddly, when I was a young boy, my older sister created the fiction that my middle name was "Stanley," my mother's father's name. I actually came to believe at one point in childhood that my name was "Gary Stanley Freedman."

Be that as it may.

My mother had a passionate interest in motion pictures and, in childhood, was fond of playing with dolls. I picked up on these interests in a way. In early adolescence I developed a fanatic attraction to the Wagner operas, and I had an interest in the craft of play writing. In high school and college I took elective courses in drama and theater. At age thirteen I staged (after a fashion), in the basement of our family home, a highly-abbreviated version (to say the least) of Wagner's four-opera Ring Cycle for the entertainment of my parents -- though, in reality, my parents were uninterested, if not hostile to my effort.

My father was subject to bouts of depression and sometimes became bitter and brutal toward my family, but he took no steps to change his situation, other than threatening, from time to time, to leave my mother. He was frequently morose and withdrawn. I reacted to my father throughout childhood with a range of irreconcilable emotions: idealization, sympathy, anger, and fear.

Taken as a unity, to be spelled out below, these accounts suggest that, for me, self-states and affects had to be regulated alone, by myself. In later life, I transformed my despondent state after my critical rebuff at Akin Gump by drawing on the themes encapsulated in the model scenes.

In psychoanalytic treatment, analyst and patient construct model scenes to convey, in graphic and metaphoric forms, significant events and repeated occurrences in the analysand's life. The information used to form model scenes can be drawn from a variety of sources, including a patient's narrative and recollections. Model scenes highlight and encapsulate experiences at any age, not only early childhood, and are representative of salient conscious and unconscious motivational themes. The concept of model scenes is broader than and includes screen memories, which Freud equated with the manifest dream content dream, in that they point toward something important that they disguise. The memory itself and its "indifferent" content are to be discarded as the analyst recovers and reconstructs the significant, concealed childhood event or fixation. Whereas screen memories focus on reconstructing what has happened, model scenes pay equal attention to what is happening, whether it is in the analytic transference or in the person's life. For me, the model scene is based on recollections that capture my solitary self-regulation, self-restoration, and my triumph over my detractors.


The book is unusual in structure. It is drawn exclusively from published literature -- it is a collection of quotations, really -- with the quotes woven together to form a cohesive narrative, comparable in a sense to the structure of T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland." A single, cohesive narrator or hero does not appear in the book. Rather, the author manipulates the quotations; he hovers overhead, as it were, like a puppet master, pulling all the strings. I am represented, through my identification with various literary and historical figures, by identity elements or identity fragments, which are the quotations. The themes of the book are numerous and diverse. The themes include anti-Semitism, the craft of writing, opera production, communicable disease, genetics, inheritance, the discovery of a secret that brings ruin on the discoverer, scientific discovery, truth seekers, critical response by peers, defiance of peers and authorities, banishment and social isolation, the absence of an empathic or supportive environment, the self-regulation of affects, the death of fathers, the intervention of government authorities into the private domain of citizens, the seductive or destructive mother, alleged corruption and cover-up, among other topics.


The negative response I received upon my job termination and its aftermath was diffuse. It came from the employer, psychiatrists (doctors), and government authorities. If I were asked why I began to write my autobiography in April 1993, four months after I had received the employer's responsive pleadings in a legal action I had initiated against the employer, I would have said: "I had to write my autobiography."

In Significant Moments, "the hero" (who appears in various guises, or is represented by various identity elements) makes a discovery that results in his being pitted against "the powers that be." The detractors of "the hero" are mocked and exposed as mean-spirited and unprincipled. I thereby expressed my distrust of the capacity of the "majority" to discriminate the "true" from the "false" and to exercise sound judgment. I showed "the powers that be"to be swayed by self-interest and incapable of distinguishing scientifically backed findings from self-serving rationalizations.

There is no decent, supportive public in Significant Moments. "The hero" naively values the support of "the powers that be" at the opening of the book. He believes that they will be responsive to truth and evidence. Before the book's end, "the hero" could rightly say that the most dangerous enemy of truth and freedom amongst us is the solid majority. "The majority is never right! . . . The minority is always right!" The minority to which "the hero" refers is himself. By the end of the book, he can trust nothing but his own values, perceptions, and beliefs.

Wounded by the shortsighted managers at Akin Gump, I asserted that the creative artist stands alone, a minority of one, to maintain his integrity and the purity of his vision. In Significant Moments I spoke with one uncompromising, solitary voice clearly depicted in "the hero," who loses all support and ends alone. "The strongest man in the world is the man who stands most alone." Increasing isolation drives "the hero" to proclaim, "I want to expose the evils that sooner or later must come to light."

To explore and to react aversively are dominant motivations for "the hero." He is uncompromising to the end, a man who does not mean to settle for rapprochement with the majority. He was ready to bring ruin upon himself and others rather than "flourish because of a lie."

In my response to the critics, I presented my hero as totally decent and honest, but naive with respect to political wheeling and dealing. His decency and goodness are contrasted with the narrow-mindedness of the majority. They are devoid of a sense of morality of their own and led by authorities who are rigid, unimaginative, self-serving, and bureaucratic -- banal at best and corrupt ("poisoned") at worst.


I had to write Significant Moments. The themes of that book, father-son tensions (real or symbolic), living a lie, the effects of learning "the truth," inheritance (in my case, the transmission of parental strengths and weaknesses), all manifestly rooted in my early life, are taken up in my book. In so doing, I addressed my compelling, burning, residual issue from my past and depicted it as a metaphor for my society as well. Significant Moments thus combines painful memories with a devastating social critique. Personally, I expressed my disillusionment at my father's legacy of academic, occupational, and marital failure, as well as my quest for an idealizable father of whom I could be proud.

Apparently I felt compelled to bare myself in a barely disguised form. I gathered together my past grievances and projected them on to "The Freud Archives Board." In them I embodied the lies, hypocrisy, deception, and duplicity that I hated in society. So long as they typified "the powers that be" and its "opinions," there could be no compromise. My uncompromising depiction of the "sins of the father," the "ghosts" that demand placing duty and public appearances above self-expression and individual freedom, expresses my long-held convictions in the purest, boldest form.

At the center of Significant Moments lies my determination to explore two sides of deception. Some self-deception is held necessary to maintain hope and to survive, yet there is also a pernicious self-deception that erodes ethics and undermines morality. Both Nietzsche and Jeffrey Masson were compelled to counter, respectively, Wagner's and The Freud Archives' deceptions of themselves and others. "The Heroes'" (Nietzsche's and Masson's) duty-bound rejection was felt by "the powers that be" (Wagner and Dr. Eissler) as both a rejection of their ideals and a personal betrayal.

I was shocked by my sudden job termination in late October 1991; but later (in April 1993), within four months of receiving the employer's responsive pleadings in the agency complaint I filed, I began work on Significant Moments. With my self-confidence shattered, if there was a moment when the capacity to transform shattered narcissism into artistic creativity was called for, this was it. The book became my response to the devastating experience of my termination and its aftermath. Note that it was only upon my receipt in late December 1992 of the employer's pleadings that I learned that the employer had allegedly determined that I was potentially violent -- that is, a physical danger to others: an allegation that must have resonated with my memory that at age three I had been determined by a municipal authority to pose a public health risk.

In Significant Moments moral integrity on one side is pitted against deception, greed, and narrow self-interests on the other. The battle lines are drawn clearly. Perhaps in outrage, all gloves are off. I myself step upon the stage and drag my enemy, conventional wisdom, front and center with me.

The hero pays the price for his naive belief in truth; he is socially totally isolated, but he remains undaunted. Throughout the book, he remains loyal to the idea that truth will win the day. He utters the line (through playwright Arthur Miller) that embodies "the hero's" defiance of the "majority" and defines the state in which he feels himself to be: independent, invulnerable, and exquisitely self-contained. "The strongest man in the world is the man who stands most alone!"

To me, the artist's strength lays in an undaunted capacity to maintain a vision in the face of opposition and to "cleanse and decontaminate the whole community." I must disturb, be perpetually misunderstood, and walk alone. Yet I would call Significant Moments an expression of the "comedy of life" in that it expresses my recognition that the creative artist cannot totally stand alone. Ultimately, he needs an audience to respond to him.


The artist accepts isolation as a consequence of his superior, unique vision of the world. He depicts his ideal, to follow the dictates of his artistic integrity, irrespective of the consequences. Compromise means accommodating to societal pressures, hypocrisy, and deception.

In Significant Moments the tyranny of conventional wisdom, the legacy of father to son, and the strength inherent in one's solitary loyalty to the "ideal" of truth appear on an unadorned stage.

It is always risky, when discussing an artist, to draw inferences about his life from his creative output. Nonetheless, parallels do exist between the artist's life and his creative work.

Traumatic, painful, or humiliating life experiences sometimes provide the context for an artist's work. To some extent, the creative product is the transformation by the artist of the effects of his painful past and narcissistically injurious experiences. Here, transformation refers to self-regulated alterations, the capacity to alter one's self-state, when, for example, it is characterized by guilt or shame, stirred by feelings of defeat and, when exposed to contempt, derision, or ridicule. To turn painful self-states into a sense of triumph requires transforming narcissistic injuries, often though not invariably, via narcissistic rage, into a sense of having righted a wrong, avenged a slur, or seized self-"intactness" from the jaws of injury.

Significant Moments is a self-revelation. As the book proceeds headlong toward its tragic denouement, the passages that describe the weather and the lighting are psychologically revealing. Thus, the portion of the writing that describes the high point of the Wagner-Nietzsche relationship refers to the brilliance of the sun. While the last meeting of Wagner and Nietzsche takes place on a cold, drizzly evening -- the night of a dinner party. Artists, including myself, often depict self-states of the characters through, for example, reference to weather. Changes in the weather foreshadow, just as a dream of a barren countryside may reveal and foreshadow, the state of the self.

The book also contains numerous biblical allusions and quotations. In adult years I have stood alone against my critics, who have usually been stronger and more numerous than my defenders. The source of my strength -- my ability to stand alone, undaunted -- I believe, is ultimately a positive inheritance from my father: namely, my father's ego-strengthening identification with the historical struggle of the Jewish people for survival. My ambivalence toward my father now becomes more understandable. My "inheritance" did not only include my father's failings, but contained a substantial quantum of support from him as well. My solitary faith in myself and my eventual triumph, coupled with my memory of my father's loyalty to the best in the Jewish tradition, may have provided the strength that has enabled me to stand alone and continue my struggle without the aid or presence of another.

After my disappointing job termination in 1991, my self-state could be characterized as enraged by new disappointments, as well as the revival of the old hurts and disillusionments. I sought refuge through the transformation of my painful state to one that may also have been an enduring legacy of my childhood, a state devoid of impingements from others and free of the disappointment I felt in my father. I sought a sense of supremacy, alone and at peace. Akin to a puppeteer, I longed to be above the critics and the mundane world, without concern for social status, economics, or prestige.

Happy Birthday!

Today is Sheryl Dyner's birthday. We worked together at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia in the late 1970s.

Today is also the 39th anniversary of my first day of college at Penn State Abington. Coincidentally, Sheryl Dyner was in my graduating class at Penn State, although I did not know her in college.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Gay Psychiatrist: An Irony

Jeffrey S. Akman, M.D. is the Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, DC.

Dr. Akman is nationally recognized for his expertise in the areas of GLBT mental health and HIV/AIDS psychiatry. He has published articles and lectured around the country on these issues. Dr. Akman served as President of the Whitman-Walker Clinic and of the National Lesbian & Gay Health Association and on the American Psychiatric Association's Commission on HIV/AIDS and Committee on Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Issues. He has been multiply recognized as a "Top Physician" by Washingtonian magazine.

The irony is that on the issue of racketeering, Dr. Akman remains firmly in the closet.  During the period September 1992 to June 1996 I was an out-patient at GW.  At that time the Psychiatry Department was chaired by Jerry M. Wiener, M.D., a nationally-prominent psychiatrist/psychoanalyst: past President of the American Psychiatric Association and past president of the American Psychoanalytic Association.  I believe that Dr. Wiener facilitated the transfer of confidential mental health information about me, in violation of the D.C. Mental Health Information Act, to my former employer, the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld.  I believe that Dr. Akman was aware of Dr. Wiener's illicit activities -- as well as the unlawful conduct of Stuart M. Sotsky, M.D. (director of out-patient care) and the unlawful conduct of my treating psychiatrists, Suzanne M. Pitts, M.D. and Dimitrios Georgopoulos, M.D.

The D.C. Attorney General determined that I formed a genuine, good-faith belief that a clinical professor of psychiatry at GW, Stanley R. Palombo, M.D. had unlawful communications with Akin Gump in the year 1990.  See Brief of Appellee District of Columbia at 10, Freedman v. D.C. Dept. Human Rights, no. 96-CV-961 (Sept. 1, 1998) ("During 1990, it appeared to Freedman that his coworkers were using words and phrases that he had used during private sessions with his psychiatrist [Stanley R. Palombo, M.D., clinical professor of psychiatry, The George Washington University Medical Center].  From this, Freedman infers that the psychiatrist was discussing his case with firm management.  R. 345.  The psychiatrist denied that he had any communication with members of the firm.  R. 345").

It is time for Dr. Akman to come out of the racketeering closet and disclose to the FBI what he knows about the illegal conduct of doctors at the George Washington University Medical Center Department of Psychiatry.