The writing was not a research project, although it contains many references. Rather, the writing is a collection of analyses, associations and identifications with things I had read over the years.
I provided a copy of the document to Napoleon Cuenco, M.D. at the George Washington University Medical Center, who performed an initial psychiatric assessment of me in September 1992. Dr. Cuenco acknowledged having read the paper.
I provided a copy of the document to Yu-Ling Han at GW who performed psychological testing of me in May 1994. Yu-Ling Han admitted in the test report she prepared that I provided her a copy of the writing.
The Caliban Complex: An Attempt at Self-Analysis
We cannot entirely ignore the legends, current throughout history, of civilizations once great and cultured, destroyed by some catastrophe of nature or war, and leaving not a wrack behind. . . . The Pacific contains the ruins of at least one of these lost civilizations. The gigantic statuary of Easter Island, the Polynesian tradition of powerful nations and heroic warriors once ennobling Samoa and Tahiti, the artistic nobility and poetic sensitivity of their present inhabitants, indicates a glory departed, a people not rising to civilization, but fallen from a high estate.
Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage
Do you know Faust?
Indeed! He serves you in peculiar ways.
He eats  and drinks no earthly nourishment, the fool.
The ferment in him drives him on and on,
And yet he half-knows that he’s mad.
--Goethe’s Faust, lines 297-303
Only those who change stay akin to me
[Nur wer sich wandelt, bleibt mit mir verwandt.]
--Nietzsche, “From High Mountains”
The development of a personality disturbance in the context of a disturbed family structure is examined. The subject of the discussion is the younger of two siblings were grew up in a deceptively-conventional two-parent family in which the family roles underwent a striking dislocation resulting from the influence of the subject's married, but childless, maternal aunt.
[In a book on the role of family dynamics in the development of personality disorders, William W. Meissner, M.D. writes: "One important aspect of the unitary organization of the family system is the flow of emotion that takes place within it and the intimate exchange of emotional influences that forms a sort of emotional contagion. There are countless examples of the ways in which one family member will manage to be preserved from the pathogenic effects of emotional involvements, but at the expense of one or other members of the family. The outbreak of symptoms in one or other member may serve to protect other members in the family and allow them to maintain an adequate level of functioning."]
The influence of the aunt on the family structure may be likened to the influence of a colonial power on a native culture: a situation in which the colonial power builds on a pre-existing set in the native culture and comes to dominate that culture by simultaneously acting through and subverting the native power structure (here represented by the subject's parents). The subject's personality problems parallel to a remarkable degree the cultural problems wrought by colonialism. (The colonial model will be examined in more detail later in the discussion).
[In a book on the role of family dynamics in the development of personality disorders, William W. Meissner, M.D. writes: "Both parents are deeply enmeshed emotionally with their families of origin. When relationships with the families of origin seem distant, this does not reflect real differentiation and autonomy. Emotional entanglements are seemingly maintained, despite apparent separation and geographic distance" [as in the analogous relationship between a colonial power and a native culture] (emphasis added).]
The subject's psychological difficulties stem from a disturbed development vis-a-vis both mother and father, a development that at crucial points is inexplicable without considering the role of the aunt and the subject's fantasies concerning her. Her role in dislocating the family structure, and therefore on the subject's personality development, is not unlike that of a vast celestial body of immense gravitational force that perturbs the normal paths of a solar system's planets upon approaching them.
[This trite metaphor is actually a play on words. My aunt's name--like that of my sister--was Estelle, a name that is derived from the word "star."]
Put another way, the anomalies in the subject's development cannot be explained without considering them to be the result of anything but an external force that altered the normal developmental path.
This analysis presupposes an unusual sensitivity on the subject's part, which is characteristic of the potentially creative, and which made the subject all the more susceptible to stimuli, or disturbances, in the subject's environment--far more so than a child of normal sensitivity. As Margaret Brenman-Gibson has observed in her biography of playwright Clifford Odets:
"We know too little of what in the external world, uniting with what special sensitivities in a child, issues in so many periods of deep life-despair as Odets had. Possibly a genetically less sensitive, less porous, and less gifted youngster would have responded with a greater resilience to his family and would have achieved a more comfortable day-to-day 'adjustment.' The laws not only of artistic, but all humans, which govern the precise ways in which the nested complementary systems of biological givens interweave with stimulations and deprivations remains largely terra incognita. Careful developmental work with newborns and children is beginning to blaze trails." Brenman-Gibson, M. Clifford Odets: American Playwright -- The Years from 1906 to 1940, at 635-636 (Atheneum: 1982).
[My reference to Clifford Odets is a personal one with multiple symbolic meanings. My father was a friend of Odets' cousin, Benny Rossman. Odets was especially close to his maternal aunt, Rossman's mother, who was like a second mother to Odets.
Subject’s Development vis-à-vis the Father
The subject was very dependent on his mother in early childhood , and was subject to intense Oedipal guilt. The subject coped with his fear of his father by unconsciously replacing him with someone who appeared to neutralize his power--his maternal aunt. (The subject’s maternal aunt was his mother’s only sibling). During his childhood, the subject came to subjectively experience the aunt as a kind of substitute psychological father, or displaced locus of Oedipal guilt . Her strength, appeal, and the mother’s dependence on her as a source of emotional support (the mother related to her sister as if the sister were in fact the mother’s husband or older brother [see paragraph 1 below] coupled with the subject’s need to cope with fear of the biological father, conspired to prompt the subject to displace Oedipal hostility onto the aunt . The displacement of Oedipal hostility had significant psychological consequences:
1. No matter how strong the bond that might develop with the biological father, Oedipal guilt would never be resolved, because its locus came to rest not with the biological father, but with the imagined, psychological father--the aunt.
(Note that the displacement of unconscious childhood rivalry with the father into conscious rivalry with the mother’s brother has been observed to be a typical feature of the family dynamics of certain cultures. Citing anthropological evidence from non-Western cultures, and noting the parallels between these data and Western myth, one commentator observes that “conflict between mother’s brother and sister’s son, so remarkably discussed by Malinowski [Malinowski, B. (1927) Sex and Regression in Savage Society. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1957, and Malinowski, B. (1929) The Sexual Life of Savages. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1953] as a feature of the ‘nuclear complex’ in matrilineal societies, was in fact not absent in the Oedipus myth. Indeed, while the rivalry between Oedipus and his father was unwittingly motivated, that between him and his mother’s brother, Creon, was fully conscious--thus paralleling Jones’s [Jones, E. (1924) “Mother-Right and Sexual Ignorance of Savages.” In Essays in Applied Psychoanalysis, 2:145-173. New York: International Universities Press, 1964] interpretation of Malinowski’s data as indicating that the two relations are not independent, but that childhood unconscious rivalry between son and father is displaced by the individual into conscious rivalry with the mother’s brother in adulthood (also cf. A. Parsons 1964 [“Is the Oedipus Complex Universal? The Jones-Malinowski Debate Revisited and a South Italian ‘Nuclear Complex.’” In The Psychoanalytic Study of Society. Edited by W. Muensterberger and S. Axelrad, 3:278-326. New York: International Universities Press.]) . . . [I]t is of some significance that the wealth of material in Oedipus the King can in fact accommodate the ‘Jones-Malinowski debate.’” Ekeh, P.P. “Benin and Thebes: Elementary Forms of Civilization.” In The Psychoanalytic Study of Society. Edited by W. Muensterberger with A.H. Esman and L.B. Boyer, 7:65-93, at 67 (International Universities Press: 1976).
2. The fact that the aunt became for the subject, through her externalizations, a kind of “tormentor,” served to heighten Oedipal guilt. (Also, in a process later amplified in the discussion, the aunt became for the subject, through her blaming behavior, the locus of variants of survivor guilt, namely, depletion and separation guilt. [See, Friedman, M. “Survivor Guilt and the Pathogenesis of Anorexia Nervosa.” Psychiatry, 48:25-39 (1985)]
3. The biological father, stripped of his authority as psychological father, would be left as a sort of revered older brother--especially during the subject’s adolescence. His power as father in the full psychological sense was profoundly impaired by the aunt’s behavior, which served as a reality factor that both heightened and complemented the subject’s displacement of Oedipal hostility and his Family Romance.
Without an appreciation of the role of the aunt in the subject’s psychological development, the contradictory elements present in the subject’s personality structure pose an analytic enigma.
The presence of a powerful Oedipal guilt in the adult male indicates that the male as a child had an impaired or nonexistent relationship with the father. Yet there is evidence of strong bonding with the father in the present case . The subject’s father identification would be incomprehensible if one were not aware that the subject had split the father into two psychological images.
By early adolescence the aunt had become the locus of Oedipal guilt, the father a sort of older brother. Later in adolescence, as a reaction to the aunt’s sadism (in the form of a degraded view of the subject and his father), the subject’s split image of the father became fixed. The aunt served as a reservoir for hostility that would normally attach to the father in childhood and be worked through as part of the dissolution of the Oedipus complex. The biological father in adolescence became a revered object--not because Oedipal rivalry had been resolved--but because the subject had split off the hostility and attached it to another object, the aunt.
One might say that, psychologically, the subject has two fathers--one revered (as in the case of the normal adult male) and one despised (as in the case of the male with an impaired relationship with the father) .
Subject's Development Vis-a-vis the Mother
The subject was emotionally dependent on the mother in early childhood. Normal (albeit overprotective) bonding with the mother arose, allowing for the development of normal reality testing.
However, over time, the subject gradually adopted the aunt's view of the world, The mother was viewed by the subject as a saintly figure (what Freud in his analysis of the composer Gustav Mahler termed, "The holy mother complex"). The aunt was viewed (as she viewed herself) as perfect, and the subject viewed himself as defective and dirty--someone who, through his attachment to his "saintly" mother, was damaging her.
By early adolescence, this scenario became utterly unbearable to the subject. In order to cope with his situation (i.e., guilt concerning imagined injury to the mother, conflict of aunt's view of self as defective versus subject's own narcissism, and the conflict between the aunt's degraded view of the subject's biological father and the need for a male figure with whom he could identify--a need that becomes strong in early adolescence in males ), the subject psychologically murdered, or decathected (withdrew love from) the mother. The mother became psychologically dead for the subject beginning in early adolescence .
The subject's defensive and premature withdrawal of love from his mother left him prey to intense feelings of guilt, and probably contributed to an instinctual regression. .
[I wrote this text in October 1988. A section of footnote 9 (below) reads: The psychiatrist/psychoanalyst Norman Doidge, M.D. writes the following about schizoid patients in his 1999 paper Diagnosing The English Patient: "Fairbairn observed that the child with the rejecting or disappointing parent develops an internalized image of the rejecting parent, called the anti-libidinal object, to which he is desperately attached. The rejecting parent is often incapable of loving, or preoccupied with his or her own needs. The child is rewarded when he is not demanding, and devalued or ridiculed as needy when he expresses his dependent longings. Thus his picture of ‘good’ behavior is distorted. The child learns never to nag or even yearn for love, because it makes the parent more distant and censorious. The child then may cover over the incredible loneliness, emptiness and ineptness he feels with a fantasy (often unconscious) that he is self-sufficient. Love and anger get hopelessly intertwined. Fairbairn argued that the tragedy of the schizoid child is that his conscience has been warped: he believes his love, not his hatred is the destructive force within. Love consumes. Hence the schizoid child’s chief mental operation is to repress his or her normal wish to be loved."
Fairbairn proposes that the image of the mother can be internalized by the child, and that this internalized image or object then becomes a source of guilt. Fairbairn proposes that the real mother, from whom love is withdrawn (decathected), can be transformed by the child into an internal psychological structure: the anti-libidinal object.]
Again, as with the father, there are aspects of the subject's personality that are unintelligible without considering the role of the aunt.
1.) Normal reality testing exists, which could only have developed as a result of normal mother-child bonding.
2.) At the same time, profound social withdrawal exists, which suggests that the mother-child bond is in some way profoundly disturbed.
Without the aid of an historical perspective of the subject's development, we are presented with a psychological riddle of unusual dimensions. Mature psychological structures stand, like artifacts of a lost civilization, side by side with inchoate and malformed elements in the subject's personality . It is as though at some point in his development something flourished that was later partly destroyed. The discontinuities in the subject's personality bear witness to some "catastrophe" in his development. Was it not his relationship with his mother that at one time flourished and was later destroyed? Cannot the subject's emotional withdrawal and the unusual discontinuities in his personality organization be attributed to a disturbance in the other-child bond mediated by the intervention of the aunt?
The subject's fascination with the city of Rome, which became strong around the age of 11, is telling.
[I visited Rome in 1978 at age 24.]
Walk through Rome and one finds the evidence of an uneven development: a city that at various periods in its history came under the domination of various influences. One finds Etruscan artifacts in the midst of ancient Latin ruins, standing side by side with renaissance palaces, which themselves house modern municipal functions.
[The Rome city hall is housed in a building on the Piazza Campidoglio (Capitoline Hill), designed by Michelangelo. I wrote this paragraph in October 1988. It's interesting that in 1992 I had a significant dream about the Philadelphia City Hall: The Dream of Craig at Wanamakers. Both the Rome city hall and the Philadelphia city hall feature a clock tower.]
A walk through Rome resembles a "walk" through a personality rich in identity elements, a personality that at various stages of its development came under the influences of many forces, both friendly and hostile. The subject's personality preserves a profusion of identity elements, which determine his contradictory and changeable personality style. The subject appears to have a capacity for mature functioning rooted in mature trends in his personality, trends that coexist and compete with more primitive elements, impeding full maturation and development.
[My use of the city of Rome as a metaphor for the human mind is an unacknowledged borrowing from a passage in Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents: "The temples and public buildings of [the republican era are] now taken by ruins, but not by ruins of themselves but of later restorations made after fires or destruction. [... A]ll these remains of ancient Rome are found dovetailed into the jumble of a great metropolis which has grown up in the last few centuries since the Renaissance. Now let us, by a flight of imagination, suppose that Rome is [...] an entity in which nothing that has once come into existence will have passed away and all the earlier phases of development continue to exist alongside the latest one."
Freud’s version of Rome is an overlapping catalogue of the past and present, with the ruins of one era buried under the ruins-in-progress of another—all jammed up against stabilized or restored buildings, plus the very occasional newer edifice thrown in for good measure.]
[FAMILY ROMANCE FANTASY]
The following reading is drawn from Maynard Solomon’s biography of Beethoven (Schirmer Books: 1977) and sets forth the basic elements of the so-called Family Romance, which plays an important role in the subject’s own personality. The subject’s replacement, in a psychological sense, of his biological father with an imagined, substitute father, his aunt, is an expression of the subject’s Family Romance.
In the fantasy which Freud and Otto Rank named the “Family Romance,” the child replaces one or both of his parents with elevated surrogates--heroes, celebrities, kings, or nobles. Freud found that the fantasy, which is universal in myth, religion, fairy-tale, and imaginative fiction, was widespread in the daydreams of ordinary people, and appeared in a more intense and enduring form among the creative and talented. Usually it is a fantasy which arises during childhood or adolescence and thereafter recedes into an amnesia, from which it can be recovered only by analysis. With Beethoven it if anything gained in strength and tenacity as he grew to maturity. But its roots were in the conditions of his childhood.
In Beethoven’s Family Romance, as with many others, only the father is replaced by an elevated substitute, while the mother is retained. This is for several reasons, but primarily because the identity of the mother is, as a rule, readily ascertainable, whereas, as Bachofen wrote, “the father as begetter presents an entirely different aspect. Standing in no visible relation to the child, he can never, evening in the marital relation, cast off a certain fictive character.” Pater semper incertus est. Or, in Telemachus’s words to Athene, which Beethoven underscored in his copy of The Odyssey and transcribed on another occasion.
My mother saith he is my father;
For myself I know it not,
For no man knoweth who hath begotten him.
For this reason, the Family Romance may readily be implanted in a child by his mother, especially one who is dissatisfied in marriage, who demeans her husband in the presence of the child, and who feels that she deserved a more worthy mate. Maria Magdalena’ frequent, and justified, complaints about Johann’s alcoholism and ineffectuality may well have had an unexpected effect upon her son. Moreover (perhaps without malice, for sorrow was her métier), each time she lauded her father-in-law’s qualities and accomplishments, she was by contrast criticizing Johann, baring his inadequacies as father and husband. At some point her son may have come to feel “another man was (or should have been) my father,” ultimately leading to Johann’s indeed being supplanted as the father in Beethoven’s inner world. For the denial that Johann van Beethoven was his real father is the central “fact” in Beethoven’s Family Romance.
The ramifications of the Family Romance are extremely tangled, and its possible meanings cannot be exhausted. The father is at once slain and elevated; the mother is retained, raised to the rank of king's mistress, but simultaneously degraded for her infidelity. The father may be removed in order to give the child access to the mother; siblings may be illegitimated to assuage incestuous impulses. The Family Romance permit’s the imaginary seizure of parental power, a seizure which we will encounter on more than one occasion in Beethoven’s later life. Patricidal implications are on the surface: the Family Romance neutralizes the father’s power by setting a more powerful figure in his place. (“The man whose death I desired was not my father; it was a stranger who was slain.”) In a sense, Beethoven had split his father into real and illusory images, suppressing the all-too-painful knowledge of his father as wastrel, second-rate musician, toady, probable informer and police agent, drunkard, inadequate provider, and hapless extortionist and resurrecting him as a noble or royal figure. In the recesses of Beethoven’s mind, his real father vied for supremacy with his desired, ideal father.
Beethoven was forced to carry a multiple burden, consisting of not only the patterns of father rejection which his mother’s attitudes and his father’s actions had instilled in him, but a matrix of negative feelings toward his mother as well, for splitting him from his father and causing him to participate in Johann’s downfall. . . .
In the subject’s case, not only did the subject unconsciously come to accept the aunt as an imagined, substitute father. The subject’s fantasy complemented the aunt’s fantasy that her younger sister’s children were in fact her own. Thus, in the present case, we are dealing both with complementary fantasy systems--a a folie a deux--and fantasy systems that in a real and functional sense mirrored reality to a certain degree. Also, the imagined father in the present case was to become the subject’s “tormenter” by conveying to the subject an inaccurate sense of his ability to affect the quality of his mother’s life. In order to cope with the guilt engendered by his aunt’s attitudes, the subject, beginning in early adolescence, realigned his loyalties by redirecting the idealized father image to his biological father.
[The Metaphor of Colonialism in Vietnam]
[I am indebted to Claire Hirshfield, Ph.D., professor emerita, The Pennsylvania State University, for introducing me to Frances FitzGerald's book, Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam.]
The following excerpt from Francis Fitzgerald’s Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam (Atlantic-Little, Brown: 1972) examines some of the psychological elements underlying the relationship of colonial to native. The aunt’s interaction with the subject’s family resembled the dynamics of colonialism, the domination of one culture by another. Key elements noted by FitzGerald are (1) the ready acceptance of the colonial power by the native population (in a process that resembles the Family Romance), and (2) the externalization of guilt by the colonial power onto the native people, who are viewed as defective and inferior “children.” Another factor in the relationship of colonial to native, which FitzGerald does not discuss, but which is important to understanding the personality of the subject, relates to identity. The colonial tends to spawn among the native population, through what the French termed their “mission civilisatrice,” a class of Western-educated misfits, who take on a veneer of Western culture, but who are rejected as inferior by the colonial power and who are outcasts among their own people. In short, colonialism breeds marginality, which sociologists define as a form of social dislocation characterized by the incorporation of habits and values from two divergent cultures and by incomplete assimilation in either The identity confusion and consequent social dislocation resulting from a kind of “psychological marginality” is a central difficulty for the subject, which in no small measure has contributed to his social withdrawal .
The whole notion of an overwhelming power was, of course, an important theme in Vietnamese life. As anyone with a knowledge of Freud might suspect, it had something to so with the relationship of the Vietnamese child to his father, with the idea, conceived in early childhood, that the father, and behind him the ancestors, have far-reaching control over the child. As men tend to see the world according to their earliest and strongest impressions of it, the Vietnamese had transferred this image of childhood to the relationship of two different nations [compare the dynamics of the Family Romance in which the child replaces his father with an imagines, elevated substitute]. In his study, Prospero and Caliban, the French ethnologist and psychologist, Otare Mannoni, gives an interesting insight into this process. His subject is colonial society in Madagascar, but much of his analysis seems to fit Vietnam, and understandably so, for the Madagascans, like the Vietnamese, were ancestor worshippers.
When the French first arrived in Madagascar, so Mannoni reports, the natives received them not with hostility but with fear and then a kind of elation. A popular Malagasy song of the period described the French as almost supernatural creatures and tells how they frightened the king and queen and then brought peace and order to the country. What impressed the Malagasy was not so much the French military power (there were in fact few French soldiers involved in the pacification, and few battles fought) as their readiness to take command and the freedom with which they violated all the traditional Malagasy customs. Instead of looking upon the French as simply foreigners with different customs, the Malagasy placed them within their own context and concluded that the French had superhuman powers. Because their ancestors were also superhuman, they by analogy accorded the French a position similar to that of their ancestors. The French became their masters, protectors, and scapegoats, all in one. Obscurely, the French understood that their rule over Madagascar depended not so much on their superior weapons as on the psychological power they held over the Malagasy.
[Thurman Arnold's book The Symbols of Government proposes that there is an unacknowledged mythology that underlies the law, without which the law would have no power over human behavior.
I would propose that the power of the myth and symbol of psychiatry in the law played an important role in the Court's decision in Freedman v. D.C. Dept. of Human Rights, D.C.C.A. no. 96-CV-961 (Sept. 1, 1998).
Thurman Arnold was the founding partner of Arnold, Porter & Fortas, and a federal judge (U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C.). Abe Fortas, Arnold's law partner, was a Supreme Court Justice and a Jewish Texan -- like Bob Strauss.
I learned about Thurman Arnold's book from E. James Lieberman's book: Acts of Will: The Life and Work of Otto Rank.
Dr. Lieberman is a retired Washington D.C. psychiatrist, and clinical professor of psychiatry at GW. In 1989 I sent Dr. Lieberman a copy of my self analysis "The Caliban Complex." Dr. Lieberman sent me back a humorous note.
Dr. Lieberman writes (at 370-71) the following in Acts of Will: The Life and Work of Otto Rank:
"In February  Rank discovered Thurman Arnold's Symbols of Government (1935). Called a cross between Voltaire and a cowboy, Arnold was a Wyoming native who became one of the most influential aw professors at Yale; he served in the Roosevelt administration, after which he became a judge and a founding partner of the famous Arnold, Fortas and Porter law firm in Washington. At Yale, Arnold enjoyed interdisciplinary seminars at which Harry Stack Sullivan, among others, participated. Like Rank a pragmatist who scoffed at the professionals' hope of achieving illusionless objectivity, Arnold was more concerned with myths and symbols than with facts. "Law," he wrote in the preface to his book, "is primarily a great reservoir of emotionally important social symbols." His appeal to a mind like Rank's can be seen from his concept of the rule of law: "the belief that there must be something behind and above government without which it cannot have permanence or respect. Even a dictator cannot escape the psychology of his time."]
Whenever a disturbance arose, they [the French in Madagascar] would show a panic by taking spectacularly violent actions, that, if transferred to Europe, would seem quite irrational as political or military strategy. In their view, once the Malagasy showed any sign of independence, all was lost. And they were right in a certain respect. What they could not understand, however, was that their power did not derive from the Madagascans’ humiliating sense of their own inferiority, but from their acceptance of a dependent relationship. To the Malagasy, the French were not “better” than themselves, they were simply people who (for obscure reasons of their own) wished to take on the responsibility for their country.
* * * *
Unable to understand the natives the French colonialists of the nineteenth century, along with their American and European counterparts in the rest of Asia, invented all the racist clichés that have passed down into the mythology of the American soldier: that Orientals [i.e., Asians] are lazy, dirty, untrustworthy, and ignorant of the value of human life. The persistence of these clichés, despite all the evidence to the contrary, suggests that they have derived not from observation but from a fantasy. Just what did the American soldiers mean when they called the Vietnamese “gooks?” Again, Mannoni is of help. The colonialist is, he says, by nature a Robinson Crusoe; he is a man who has chosen to escape the society of men to build an empire for himself in a world that will unquestioningly accept his dominion.
[Compare Joseph Conrad's novel, Heart of Darkness. I have written a brief psychoanalytic study about the novel, which can be found at the following site: http://dailstrug.blogspot.com/2009/12/psychotic-ramblings-of-paranoid.html]
The natives to him do not constitute human society, but an extension of the world of nature . In a sense, then, it is the colonial and not the native who is a “child,” for his desire to escape rises out of a sense of insecurity and finds fulfillment of his childish wish of dreams of domination and an object (for the native is to him an object) upon which to project all his repressed desires. In calling the native “dirty,” “bloodthirsty,” or “cruel,” he relieves himself of his own guilt .
[Subject was the target of pervasive projections and externalizations in his developmental environment. Novick, J. and Kelly, K. "Projection and Externalization." The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. Vol. 25: 69-98 at 90 (1970).
As a consequence of externalization by a disturbed family system subject shows severe narcissistic disturbance with mental pain and conflict rooted in the acceptance of the devalued self and the difficulty in integrating positive aspects with this conscious self representation. There is impairment in the maintenance of self-esteem and the development of an adequate self representation. Novick and Kelly at 92.
As a consequence of projection by mother (and mother's sister) subject shows anxiety and guilt in relation to drive expression. In childhood subject's drives were constantly reinforced by the parental projections, and the development of an autonomous and adaptive defense system was hindered. A brittle superstructure, based on an identification with the primitive superego and defense system of the projecting mother (and mother's sister), was created. Novick and Kelly at 93.]
The “colonialist,” according to Mannoni, is a distinct type who selects himself out of his society for the role. The colonial impulse is nonetheless present in varying degrees within most Westerners and will tend to emerge when the situation permits it.
In Mannoni’s judgment the best portrayal of the relations between colonial and native lies in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. On the one hand there is Prospero, the European, who, unable to get along in his own society (his brother, he says, has betrayed him), has invented a world that he with his “magical powers” can dominate.
[In the second act of Wagner's opera Parsifal the sorcerer Klingsor, with his magical powers, calls into being a magical garden populated by "flower maidens" -- an extension of the world of nature -- which Klingsor dominates. The phantasmagorical world of Klingsor's magic garden can be interpreted as a schizoid fantasy.]
In Caliban, the “bestial” native of the island, he sees everything he detests in himself--including a desire for incestual relations with his daughter Miranda. On the other hand there is Caliban himself, the native who hates his master not because Prospero dominates him but because he treats him so badly. As Mannoni points out, Caliban remembers a time when his master loved him and treated him kindly. He looks forward not to independence, but to finding a new and better master. This temporal sequence is in fact a representation of his own ambivalence towards authority: on the one hand he desires it, on the other hand he feels it will harm him. . . . Ariel, the third character in the drama, combines features of the both of the others [in a sense the character Ariel parallels the role of the subject’s parents vis-à-vis the aunt]. An important figure in colonial society, he is the houseboy, the intermediary between the colonial and the native Calibans. He desires independence, but he cannot take it for himself. For in exchange for his mater’s “magical powers,” he has relinquished his independence of spirit and bound himself in servitude. . . . (Prospero is here the missionary who “saves” his houseboys from the “darkness,” “misery,” and “paganism” of native life--but who will not let his houseboys go.)
As The Tempest indicates, the relationship between colonial and native must eventually end, for while there is some superficial correspondence, the attitudes of both colonial and native are based on false, and finally contradictory, assumptions.
* * * *
On their own many Vietnamese had, like Caliban, concluded that the French were not their patrons but tyrants who treated them as inferiors.
The following reading, drawn from “Survivor Guilt in the Pathogenesis of Anorexia Nervosa,” [Friedman, M. Psychiatry, 48:25-39, February 1985] details the essential elements of survivor guilt and related forms of guilt, namely, depletion guilt (based on the belief that love in the family is in limited supply and the concomitant fear that to accept the love of a family member will deplete, or harm, the individual), and separation guilt (the fear that to separate from a loved object will harm the object). Friedman notes the wide range of difficulties attributable to survivor guilt and its relative forms, depletion and separation guilt: “[G]uilt [has been] seen as underlying the inhibition of sexual and other pleasurable activity. Delinquency, school phobias, suicide, psychosis, negative therapeutic reactions, failed marriages, failed careers and another self destructive forms of behavior [have been] seen as motivated by unconscious guilt over disloyalty to one’s family of origin.” Although the subject is not anorectic, an understanding of these forms of guilt provides an insight into the subject’s psychopathology. A central feature of the aunt’s interaction with the subject was her externalization onto the subject of her own feelings of guilt in relation to significant persons in her life, a type of interaction that distorted the subject’s self-perceptions and negatively affected his relations with others. (To cite only one example, the aunt was her own mother’s (the subject’s grandmother’s) sole support. The aunt’s own unconscious guilt at leaving her mother alone upon the aunt’s relative late marriage [at age 34] was externalized onto the subject’s relationship with his mother).
[The Caliban Complex, as I originally presented it, provided typed excerpts from Dr. Friedman's paper. The full text of the article is now available on the Internet, and I direct the reader to that web page.
The following site contains the full text of the article: Survivor Guilt in the Pathogenesis of Anorexia Nervosa.
My former treating psychiatrist, Stanley R. Palombo, M.D., serves as an editorial adviser of the journal Psychiatry, which published the above-referenced article. The reader can contact Dr. Palombo at 202 362 6004. I was referred to Dr. Palombo by Albert Rothenberg, M.D., a clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard.
The article contains a notable erroneous assertion of fact: "Melanie Klein paid little attention to the child's experience in his family and saw the phenomena of guilt and reparation as deriving from instinctual processes, largely independent of environmental factors."
Dr. Friedman is in error. "Real other people are extremely important in Klein's later formulations. The child regrets the damage he feels he has inflicted upon his parents. He attempts to repair that damage, to make good, over and over again. The quality of his relations with his parents and the quality of his subsequent relations with others determine the sense he has of himself, in the extremes, either as a secret and undiscovered murderer or as a repentant and absolved sinner." Greenberg, J.R. and Mitchell, S.A. Object Relations in Psychoanalytic Theory at 127 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1983).
Also, a central concept that Dr. Friedman seems to propose as a novel theory -- the child's fear of harming the object -- was recognized by Freud in his 1917 paper "Mourning and Melancholia," Standard Edition, 14:243-258. London: Hogarth Press. Freud's insights predate the writings of Arnold Modell, whom Dr. Friedman cites as authority. Pathological mourning and schizoid detachment are the consequences of early and severe loss; the ensuing withdrawal from all relationships due to anxiety over future loss and guilt over perceived destruction of the object results in further frustration of emotional needs and dissociated lack of awareness of needs.
I thought I would point out these facts, since Dr. Palombo failed to catch these issues in the editing process.]
FOOTNOTES AND COMMENT
1. The subject suffered a painful, if not serious, trauma to the mouth at the approximate age of two and one-half (a sharp object he had placed in his mouth punctured the soft palate as he fell to the floor). Undoubtedly, the injury made swallowing painful for a prolonged period, and it is plausible that the subject adjusted to a state of semi-starvation to avoid the pain of swallowing. (It is perhaps noteworthy that the subject’s poor appetite was a continuing concern to his parents throughout early childhood. At one point, a pediatrician who found nothing wrong physically, prescribed a tonic to enhance the appetite; the medication had no effect). While no conclusions can be drawn, absent more complete analysis, regarding the effect of this injury on the psychological development of the subject, the incident does provide a ready and apposite metaphor, or model, of the subject’s object relations. (“During childhood,” Erikson writes, “when man’s ego is most of all a body ego, composed of all pleasures and tensions experienced in major body regions, the alimentary process assumes in phantasy the character of a model of the self, nourished and poisoned, assimilating and eliminating not only substances, but also good [loving, idealized - divine] and bad [coercive, punishing - Mephistophelian] influences.” Erikson, Erik H. Young Man Luther: A Study in Psychoanalysis and History, at 247 (Norton: 1958) (Austen Riggs Monograph No. 4). The association in subject’s mind between interpersonal relations and oral incorporation and, by implication, between difficulties in interpersonal relations and oral frustration, is suggested by an unintentional play on the word formula in footnote 13. The choice of the word formula in the context of a discussion distinguishing the sister’s object relations from those of the subject may have been determined by a preconscious recognition of a more fundamental, oral, body-ego distinction between the siblings, namely, the fact that in infancy the sister was breast-fed whereas the subject was bottle-fed). Expressed in terms of his childhood injury, one might say that the subject’s object relations resemble the behavior of a starving person who complains that he is starving but, when offered food, will thrust it aside because it hurts too much to swallow. That is, although he is emotionally starved and craves friendship, he feels threatened by the possibility of being emotionally nourished by others.
At the very least, the incident may have had the following effects. First, in an unconsciously-determined effort to master the trauma, the subject may repeatedly re-enact his childhood injury in symbolic form. Under the influence of the so-called repetition compulsion "' . . . the individual unconsciously arranges for variations of an original theme which he has not learned to overcome or to live with: he tries to master a situation which had been too much for him by meeting it repeatedly and if his own accord. . . . ' [I]t sometimes happens that the experience of the 'original situation; is lost sight of, no longer comprehended, and that only the unsuccessful maneuvers devised to cope with the underlying problem are externally repeated to no avail." Thus, the subject, attempting to master the childhood experience of oral frustration, may in adulthood arrange for variations of symbolically equivalent frustrating situations. See Brenman-Gibson, M. Odets Odets: American Playwright - The Years from 1906 to 1940, at 636 (Atheneum: 1982), quoting Erikson, E.H. Childhood and Society (Norton: 1950). See also Freud, S. (1920) Beyond the Pleasure Principle, passim (Norton: 1961) (Freud observes that the compulsion to repeat is not limited in all cases to active behaviors on the part of the person concerned: "We are much more impressed by cases where the subject appears to have a passive experience, over which he has no influence, but in which he meets with a repetition of the same fatality." Id., at 16, citing Jung. C.G. "The Significance of the Father in the Destiny of the Individual." Collected Papers on Analytical Psychology, at 156 (London: 1916)).
Also being compelled to cope with starvation at an early age may have contributed to the development of an unusual capacity to endure frustration of the satisfaction of instinctual drives. Most people seek out relationships precisely because emotional starvation is too difficult to bear and will accommodate themselves to the potential difficulties of interpersonal relations in order to obtain the desired instinctual gratification. For the subject, however, who became accustomed to starvation in early childhood, it has proved easier to continue to starve than to suffer the possible pain associated with interpersonal relations (speaking metaphorically, the pan of swallowing).
Further, the injury might have had an effect on later superego development and may have contributed to a predisposition to intense feelings of guilt. (Several early psychoanalysts [Jones, Isaacs, Klein, Reik, and Alexander] held the view that “any kind of frustration, any thwarted instinctual satisfaction, results, or may result, in a heightening of the sense of guilt.” Freud, S. (1927) Civilization and Its Discontents, at 85 (Norton 1961). Freud himself only qualifiedly accepted this position. Klein believed that early oral (and anal) frustrations form the prototype of all later frustration, and that the infant, incapable of distinguishing frustration from punishment (because of a lack of self-object differentiation), experiences frustration as punishment. Grosskurth, P. Melanie Klein: Her World and Her Work (Knopf: 1986)). As to the effect, if any, of this injury on the subject's superego development one is moved to inquire: Does not a harsh and tormenting conscience, which gives rise in the ego to an ever-present fear of internal reproach, resemble an injury in the mouth that poses for its sufferer the ever possible risk that each mouthful of food will result in a frustrating pain? Does not a conscience so severe that it thwarts almost all pleasure resemble a painful condition in the mouth that frustrates the swallowing of almost all food? Perhaps the subject, like Faust, in renouncing the pleasurable in life, yet ever tormented by desire, serves his Lord (or overlord), the superego “in peculiar ways.”
In his inability to form close relationships with people without feeling threatened the subject exhibits the characteristic traits of the schizoid. (For a discussion of the role of unconscious guilt in schizoid personalities, see Jackson, D.D. “Guilt and the Control of Pleasure in Schizoid Personalities” British Journal of Medical Psychology 31: 124-133 (1958), cited in Friedman, M. “Survivor Guilt in the Pathogenesis of Anorexia Nervosa” Psychiatry 48:25-29 (1985)). The typical schizoid dilemma has been defined as a desperate need for love combined with an equally desperate fear of close involvement. Storr, A. Solitude: A Return to the Self, at 101 (The Free Press: 1988). The schizoid dilemma is illustrated metaphorically by a parable at the end of Schopenhauer’s Parerga and Paralipomena, volume II, section 396, quoted in Nietzsche, F. (1972) The Birth of Tragedy, at 134 (Vintage: 1967): “On a cold winter day, a group of porcupines huddled together closely to save themselves by their mutual warmth from freezing. But soon they felt the mutual quills and drew apart. Whenever the need for warmth brought them closer together again, this second evil was repeated, so that they were tossed back and forth between these two kinds of suffering until they discovered a moderate distance that proved most tolerable. Thus, the need for company, born of the emptiness and monotony inside them, drives men together; but their many revolting qualities and intolerable faults repel them again. . . .” Schopenhauer might have added that the porcupine that has grown accustomed to the cold (or starvation) will make no great effort to find company in (or seek nourishment from) fellow porcupines; yet the gnawing feeling of cold (or hunger), if only experienced in an unacknowledged fashion, will remain.
2. The relationship of the potentially creative child to the mother can be ambiguous and paradoxical, containing a mixture of strong dependence and seemingly incongruous autonomy. One study, for example, found parental overprotection to be a common trait among social scientists who had attained prominence in their field. Roe, A. “A Psychological Study of Eminent Psychologists and Anthropologists, and a Comparison with Biological and Physical Scientists” Psychological Monograph 67: 2 (1953), cited in Arieti, S. Creativity: The Magic Synthesis, at 350 (Basic Books 1976). Parental overprotection, notwithstanding, the potentially creative, beginning in infancy, may display an unusual propensity to withdraw love from the mother. Arieti, citing psychoanalytic investigations of the relationship of the potentially creative infant to the mother, writes: “[Philip Weismann] believed that the future artist, as an infant, had the ability to hallucinate the mother’s breast independently of oral needs. According to him the unusual capacities of the artist ‘may be traced to the infancy and childhood of the artist wherein we find that he is drawn by the nature of his artistic endowment to preserve (or immortalize) his hallucinated response to the mother’s breast independent of his needs gratifications” . . . . One major concept of Weismann is the ‘dissociative function of the ego’ that he substitutes for Kris’s concept of regression in the service of the ego. With the aid of this dissociative function, the creative person ‘may partially decathect the external object (mother’s breast) and hypercathect his imaginative perception of it. He may then further elaborate and synthesize these self-created perceptions as anlagen or precursors of creative activity which must then await full maturation and development of his ego and his talent for true creative expression.’ In simple words, according to Weismann, the child who will become creative has the ability to diverge the energy originally invested in primitive personal objects and to invest it again in creative work.” Arieti, S. Creativity: The Magic Synthesis, at 25-26 (Basic Books: 1976), quoting Weismann, P. “Psychological Concomitants of Ego Functioning in Creativity” International Journal of Psychoanalysis 49: 464-469 (1968).
These findings (or “findings”) perhaps provide a theoretical basis in infancy for the concept of the Family Romance in which the older child withdraws love from the parent and reinvests emotional energy in an imagined parental figure. These findings, based on inferences drawn from the emotional world of the potentially creative infant, are consistent with Freud’s view of the Family Romance that it appears in a more intense and enduring form among the creative.
3. The dislocation of family roles in the present case, a situation wherein family roles are defined by function rather than biological relation or legal status, finds a parallel in Joseph Conrad’s novel, The Secret Agent. Concerning the distortion of family roles in the novel one commentator writes: “The family [portrayed by Conrad] is a compelling one, because in every respect except one it is no family at all. Roles are defined by dislocation. Although [the protagonist] Verloc is Stevie’s brother-in-law, he is considered by Winnie and her mother as a father, or at least a stepfather. While Winnie is Stevie’s sister, she really takes over as mother, and the real mother, seemingly too old to be that, appears more like a grandmother. Winnie has married Verloc for security, but since he is much older, he is more father than lover. . . . Stevie must in a sense please Verloc, so that he serves more as son than brother-in-law, and Winnie’s terms for the devotion to marriage are not connected to Verloc but to her brother. Winnie becomes the safeguard to the family that Verloc is nominally head of. The marriage is childless, although ‘children’s roles’ fill all scenes of married life [as they did for the subject’s childless aunt]: Stevie as child of Winnie, Winnie as child of Verloc, Winnie and Stevie as children of their mother before her removal to a charity home. What appear as vertical relationships are really lateral, so that the marriage itself hardly seems between equals.” Conrad, J. (1906) The Secret Agent (Introduction by Karl, F.R., at 11) (Signet Classic: 1983).
(Note that the deaths of both parents before he was twelve was an overwhelming trauma for the young Conrad, leaving him subject to intense survivor guilt for the remainder of his life. The loss or inaccessibility of the nurturing object in preadolescence, either through death or through an abrupt, defensive, and premature decathexis (cf. footnote 14), may impair the child’s ability to negotiate the central issues of adolescence--such as the reworking of the Oedipal struggle (cf. footnotes 6 and 7) and the establishment of an identity matrix (cf. footnotes 9 and 11). Cf. Wolfenstein, M. (1966) “How is mourning Possible?” The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child 21:93-123, cited in Hamilton, J.W. “Joseph Conrad: His Development as an Artist, 1889-1910” The Psychoanalytic Study of Society 8:277-329, at 278-279 (Yale University Press: 1979). Hamilton observes that for the young Conrad the inaccessibility of the nurturing object--through the illness and death of his mother--"awakened in him profound feelings of helplessness, rage, and guilt. These would have been intensified by the very real oral deprivations (cf. footnote 1) of” exile of the family from Poland to northern Russia and the harsh climatic conditions of such an existence. Hamilton does not explore how the themes in The Secret Agent represent Conrad’s struggle over issues of survivor guilt and oral deprivation. The theme of personal identity, central to the novel, and expressed in the characters’ ambiguous family relations, may reflect Conrad’s effort to come to terms with a developmental problem incident to the premature loss of his mother, namely, a malformed identity matrix).
4. Details concerning a stunning humiliation of the subject’s father carried out by his aunt that occurred when the subject was four and a half years old (during the Oedipal period) are omitted. Suffice it to say that the incident may have strongly imprinted on the child’s mind, if only unconsciously, that his aunt was a person of great power and that his father’s powers were weak in comparison.
5. The subject’s intense, primitive idealization in adulthood suggests the displacement onto others of an early idealized parental imago, probably in part a representation of his father.
[I wrote the above statement in October 1988. It is striking that Fernando makes the following observation in his 1997 paper about a patient who suffered a traumatic physical injury in childhood (cf. footnote 1, above), an injury that directly impacted superego maturation. “My impression is that the relative lack of superego maturation and integration in the exceptions affects the maturation of the ego ideal. It interferes with the deconcretization of the ego ideal and its integration into the personality as a substructure within the superego system, a process that normally takes place definitively in late adolescence. This interference was evident in my patient, who found it impossible to relinquish her attachment to the idealized images of her parents and instead began a prolonged attempt, beginning in late adolescence, to recapture her ideals in concrete form in her relationships with A and H. Fernando, J. “The Exceptions: Structural and Dynamic Aspects.” Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 52: 17-28 at 24 (1997). The observation in GW’s initial assessment (September 1992) that my insight was poor is glaringly peculiar (Napoleon Cuenco, M.D.)]
Further, the subject’s idealization in adulthood is consistent with the emergence of a Family Romance in childhood, in which an early idealized parental imago (probably derived in part from the father ) is assumed to have been displaced onto the aunt. Concerning the displacement of idealized parental images in the Family Romance, Freud writes;
If we examine in detail the commonest of these imaginative romances, the replacement of both parents or of the father alone by grander people, we find that these new and aristocratic parents are equipped with attributes that are derived entirely from real recollections of the actual and humble ones, so that in fact the child is not getting rid of his father but exalting him. Indeed the whole effort at replacing the real father by a superior one is only an expression of the child’s longing for the happy, vanished days when his father seemed to him the noblest and strongest of men and his mother the dearest and loveliest of women. He is turning away from the father in whom he believed in the earlier years of his childhood; and his phantasy is no more than the expression of a regret that those happy days have gone. Thus in these phantasies the overvaluation that characterizes a child’s earliest years comes into its own again. Freud, S. (1909) “Family Romances” in Collected Papers, Volume V, at 74-78 (Basic Books: 1959).
In early adolescence, in a reshuffling of loyalties, the subject rejected his aunt and resurrected a his early image of his father.
6. The persistence of the Oedipus complex in the unconscious is traditionally viewed as pathological. Yet the ability to withstand an intense Oedipus complex may indicate the unusual ego strength characteristic of the creative. Eissler writes: “The [average] person needs a dissolution of the Oedipus conflict, or at least a substantial reduction in its intensity, in order to survive; whereas, . . . the [creative] person is not only strong enough to endure the stress of the severest conflicts, but actually needs intense conflicts as a vis a tergo in order to be incited over and over again to renewed accomplishments.” Eissler, K.R. Talent and Genius: The Fictitious Case of Tausk Contra Freud, at 289 (Quadrangle Books: 1971).
Indeed, the persistence of even a vigorous Oedipus complex in the unconscious may not necessarily vitiate, or preclude the development of, an equally vigorous father identification. The dramatic tensions in Wagner’s opera, Die Meistersinger von Nuernberg, which owe their syncretic strength in part to an integration of the temporally-opposed psychic forces of Oedipal conflict and father identification, suggest the unconscious psychological concerns of the opera’s creator. On can infer, based on analysis of the opera, that in Wagner’s unconscious an intense Oedipal conflict raged against an equally intense father identification. Three of the central male characters, Walther von Stolzing, Sixtus Beckmesser, and Hans Sachs are each in love with Eva Pogner, while Walther and Beckmesser vie for hand in marriage. The characters’ relations fall into two triangles, one comprising Walther-Beckmesser-Eva, and the other comprising Walther-Sachs-Eva. The relationship between Walther (symbolic son) and Beckmesser (symbolic father) is characterized by bitter rivalry and antagonism. Sachs, on the other hand, acts as a benign and benevolent mentor with whom Walther identifies. The two dramatic characters, Sachs and Beckmesser, are in a psychoanalytical sense simply two separate images of a single figure-- the “father.” Beckmesser (a personification of the castrating father imago) represents the son’s image of the father during the Oedipal period (“messer,” i.e., “knife,” suggests castration), while Sachs (a personification of the pre-Oedipal idealized father imago) represents a later, more mature image of the father as mentor). The disparate roles of Sachs and Beckmesser undoubtedly reflect the dual and conflicted image of the father in Wagner’s unconscious. The subject’s longstanding fascination with the opera is revealing.
(Viewed from a slightly different perspective, the triangles comprising Walther-Beckmesser-Eva and Walther-Sachs-Eva may be said to represent, respectively, the humble and noble families of the child’s family romance. (Wagner’s allusions to the biblical Eve in the second and third acts of the opera suggest that in the composer’s mind Eva Pogner bore at least a marginal affinity with her biblical namesake, a figure who, not unlike the mythical mother of the family romance, is raised to the rank of idealized primal mother, but simultaneously degraded as the cause of man’s downfall). The dramatic themes explored in Die Meistersinger may reflect Wagner’s struggle with the change in his inner relationship to his parents, especially that to his father. As Freud explains, “the child’s first years are governed by grandiose over-estimation of his father. . . . Later on, under the influence of rivalry and real disappointments, the release from the parents and a critical attitude towards the father set in. The two families of the [family romance] myth, the noble [represented in Die Meistersinger by the Walther-Sachs-Eva grouping] as well as the humble one [represented in Die Meistersinger by the Walther-Beckmesser-Eva grouping], are therefore both images of his own family as they appear to the child in successive periods of his life.” Freud, S. (1939) Moses and Monotheism, at 9-10) (Vintage Books)).
7. The period of early adolescence, which witnesses the re-emergence of the Oedipal struggle, concludes with a final identification with the father. Full identification with the father allows the child to "let go" of his mother and to take the role of the father. "In so doing, he also [has] to accept the need to go beyond his father's abilities and capacities." Mazlish, B. In Search of Nixon: A Psychohistorical Inquiry, at 28 (Penguin Books: 1971).
It might be said of the subject that "going beyond his father's abilities and capacities" has proved a difficult task. Both mother and father, through word and action, fostered a highly ambivalent attitude toward passivity and aggressiveness.
[The use of the word "fostered" in this context might be an unintentional play on words suggestive of the "family romance" fantasy in which the child creates in fantasy a set of ideal parents and rejects his biological parents as lowly "foster" parents.]
The subject's ambivalence toward masculinity/passivity issues reflects not simply an identification with the divergent values of each respective parent. Perhaps of greater interest and significance is the fact that each parent exhibited ambivalent attitudes with respect to passivity and aggressiveness. For example, the father, though possessing an above average intelligence (his IQ was measured at 125 in the army), worked as a cutter in the garment industry. At the same time he was active in union affairs and served for a number of years as shop steward. The father's personality exhibited both passive and aggressive tendencies. The subject appears to seek out roles and behaviors that enable him to vent simultaneously both active and passive needs. Though qualified to practice law, the subject is employed as a paralegal. At the same time it is vital to his masculinity needs that he excel at what he does--that he be "number one."
[I had a recurring idea of reference at Akin Gump about coworkers' references to "Little Debbie's" snack foods. The advertizer uses the phrase: "Little Debbie's: The Number One Snack Food." I interpreted coworkers' use of the phrase "Little Debbie's" as a symbolic reference to the phrase "number one" in my autobiographical writing.]
In effect, his employment enables him to vent his need for dependence and passivity and independence and masculinity. He is fiercely competitive in whatever he does and is highly threatened by anyone he perceives as attempting to topple him from his position. His behaviors are essentially unconsciously-determined compromises aimed at placating parents with divergent values as between themselves, and also parents who as individuals exhibited ambivalent attitudes.
These observations regarding the subject's ambivalence are consistent with a possible instinctual conflict over oral and phallic drive wishes. See footnote 11, paragraph 2.
[In a paper published in a 2001 issue of the journal Psychiatry, the nationally-prominent Emory University psychology professor Drew Westen proposes a personality profile of high-functioning persons with anorexia nervosa. He includes the trait of competitiveness:
TABLE 1. SWAP-200a Items That Best Described Eating Disorder
Patients in the High-Functioning/Perfectionistic Personality
Is articulate; can express self well in words. 3.09
Tends to be conscientious and responsible. 3.05
Tends to be self-critical; sets unrealistically high standards
for self and is intolerant of own human defects. 2.61
Expects self to be “perfect” (e.g., in appearance,
achievements, performance, etc.). 2.53
Tends to elicit liking in others. 2.35
Tends to be preoccupied with food, diet, or eating. 2.32
Is empathic; is sensitive and responsive to other peoples’
needs and feelings. 2.29
Is able to use his/her talents, abilities, and energy
effectively and productively. 2.28
Has moral and ethical standards and strives to live up to
Appreciates and responds to humor. 2.10
Enjoys challenges; takes pleasure in accomplishing things. 1.98
Tends to feel guilty. 1.98
Is psychologically insightful; is able to understand self and
others in subtle and sophisticated ways. 1.96
Has the capacity to recognize alternative viewpoints, even
in matters that stir up strong feelings. 1.87
Is capable of hearing information that is emotionally
threatening (i.e., that challenges cherished beliefs,
perceptions, and self-perceptions) and can use and
benefit from it. 1.86
Is creative; is able to see things or approach problems in
novel ways. 1.76
Tends to be energetic and outgoing. 1.69
Finds meaning in belonging and contributing to a larger
community (e.g., organization, church, neighborhood). 1.56
Tends to express affect appropriate in quality and intensity
to the situation at hand. 1.55
Tends to be competitive with others (whether consciously
or unconsciously). 1.54
Is able to assert him/herself effectively and appropriately
when necessary. 1.52
Tends to be anxious. 1.48
is able to find meaning and fulfillment in guiding,
mentoring, or nurturing others. 1.46
Is capable of sustaining a meaningful love relationship
characterized by genuine intimacy and caring. 1.44]
8. The subject lost both parents in early adulthood. He was grief-stricken upon the death of his father. He showed no emotion at all at his mother’s funeral. Psychologically, for the subject, his mother had died many years earlier.
[I went into a depression after my father's death in July 1976; I attempted suicide in November 1977. My mother died in January 1980, while I was in my first year of law school. In May 1980 I finished the academic semester at the top 15% of my class.]
[Melanie Klein in Love, Guilt and Reparation (1935) writes: "In some patients who had turned away from their mother, in dislike or hate, or used other mechanisms to get away from her, I have found that there existed in their minds nevertheless a beautiful picture of the mother, but one who was felt to be a picture of her only, not her real self. The real object was felt to be unattractive—really an injured, incurable and therefore dreaded person. The beautiful picture had been dislocated from the real object but had never been given up, and played a great part in the specific ways of their sublimation."]
9. The following selected sentences from Hermann Hesse’s novel Narcissus and Goldmund touch on the problems of anhedonia and identity loss/alteration of identity (from sensualist to ascetic intellectual), resulting from a withdrawal of emotional investment from the mother:
But how was it possible that the awakening of sex met with such bitter antagonism in such a beautiful, healthy, flowering adolescent? There must be a secret enemy who had managed to split this magnificent human being within himself and turn against his natural urges. All that was alive and radiant in this young man spoke only too clearly: he bore all the marks of a strong human being, richly endowed sensually and spiritually, perhaps an artist, but at any rate a person with a great potential for love, whose fulfillment and happiness consists of being easily inflamed and able to give himself. Then why was this being with such rich and perceptive senses so set on leading the ascetic life of the mind? Goldmund was one of those people part of whose lives have been lost; pressure of circumstances or some kind of magic power has obliterated a portion of their past. “I believe that he suffers because he has forgotten a part of his past.” “Ah? And what part is that?” “His mother, and everything connected with her.” “I reminded him that he does not know himself, that he had forgotten his childhood and his mother.” Hesse, H. (1930) Narcissus and Goldmund, at 32, 34, 38, 47, and 48 (Bantam Books/Published by arrangement with Farrar, Straus, and Giroux: 1987).
Upon recathecting his mother Goldmund undergoes a transformation of identity--from a schizoid vacuum to what might be termed, to apply a Reichian concept, phallic narcissism. Might the subject himself undergo a similar personality transformation were he to recathect his mother? It is noteworthy in this regard that the subject’s physical appearance, some of the people to whom he is drawn, and even the style of clothing he wears appear peculiarly inconsistent with his apparent identity. It is as though he had an ambiguous affinity from some other, seemingly alien identity that lurks just below the surface of his consciousness--an identity that is for the most part lost and inaccessible to conscious awareness, yet which seeks expression and vivification (or revivification).
(Compare the age-old aspiration of the Jews, which found practical expression in the Zionists’ goal: the end of Jews’ exile from their ancient homeland, or “motherland,” and the revival of a lost Hebrew (phallic) identity. Interpreted psychoanalytically, exile for the Jews meant a traumatic separation from a symbolic nurturing mother, resulting in a collective identity loss in the form of a regression, on a cultural level, to a pre-phallic stage. Return of the Jews transformed the Jewish identity into an Israeli identity (and indeed transformed the whole region, once so stagnant). “The Israeli is now possessed of a sovereign state, whose power, though objectively not great, represents for the unconscious a phallus like any other The Israeli, by living in his own land, has thus refound the mother and forms with her a couple, as is the case with most other peoples. He lives, not in a vacuum like the Jew, but in a material (as Freud remarked, the words materia and mater have the same derivation) world that is governed and organized.” Grunberger, B. “The Anti-Semite and the Oedipal Conflict.” International Journal of Psychoanalysis 45: 380-385, at 384-385 (1964). And “[i]n his ‘homeland,’ and tilling his very home soil,” Erikson notes, “the ‘ingathered’ Jew was to overcome such evil identities as result from eternal wandering . . . and intellectualizing and was to become whole again in body and mind. . . .” Erikson, E.H. Identity and the Life Cycle (1959), at 172 (Norton: 1980)).
[According to the Jefferson University psychiatrist/psychoanalyst Salman Akhtar, M.D., the schizoid has essentially two distinct personalities: one covert and one overt. Akhtar also believes that the schizoid's overt personality tends to be asexual and celibate, and he emphasizes the centrality of splitting and identity confusion in the schizoid personality.
The psychiatrist/psychoanalyst Norman Doidge, M.D. writes the following about schizoid patients in his 1999 paper Diagnosing The English Patient: "Fairbairn observed that the child with the rejecting or disappointing parent develops an internalized image of the rejecting parent, called the anti-libidinal object, to which he is desperately attached. The rejecting parent is often incapable of loving, or preoccupied with his or her own needs. The child is rewarded when he is not demanding, and devalued or ridiculed as needy when he expresses his dependent longings. Thus his picture of ‘good’ behavior is distorted. The child learns never to nag or even yearn for love, because it makes the parent more distant and censorious. The child then may cover over the incredible loneliness, emptiness and ineptness he feels with a fantasy (often unconscious) that he is self-sufficient. Love and anger get hopelessly intertwined. Fairbairn argued that the tragedy of the schizoid child is that his conscience has been warped: he believes his love, not his hatred is the destructive force within. Love consumes. Hence the schizoid child’s chief mental operation is to repress his or her normal wish to be loved."
I note, incidentally, that my friend Craig W. Dye had what appeared to be the complete works of Hermann Hesse on a bookshelf in his apartment.]
10. Freud found that one of his patient’s “mental life impressed one in much the same way as the religion of ancient Egypt, which is so unintelligible to us because it preserves the earlier stages of its development side by side with the end products, retains the most ancient gods and their significations along with the most modern ones [see footnote 11, paragraph 2]. . . .” Freud, S. “From the History of an Infantile Neurosis,” (1918), Standard Edition, 17:7-122, at 119 (Hogarth Press: 1955), reprinted in Freud: Three Case Histories, at 313, Reiff, P., ed. (Collier Books: 1963), quoted in part in Roazen, P. Freud and His Followers, at 529 (Meridian: 1976).
[The following observation has been made about the personalities of creative persons: "His complex personality is, simultaneously, more primitive and more cultured, more destructive and more constructive, crazier and saner. He has a greater appreciation and acceptance of the nonrational elements in himself and others."]
11. Identity problems for the subject have many roots, including identification with individuals lacking a firmly-established identity (see footnote 7), interaction with individuals unable to maintain a stable object representation (especially the subject’s mother and sister), failure of family members to maintain clearly-defined, appropriate roles within the family structure (see footnote 3), family members’ ego-boundary disturbance (see footnote 13; and footnote 13A discussing the submerging of the subject’s core identity by a negative identity), and difficulties in relations with the mother particularly during infancy (specifically, the subject’s failure to resolve paranoid position anxiety/part-object identification) and during pre-adolescence (abrupt and defensive withdrawal of emotional investment from the mother and its implications for the establishment of an identity matrix (see footnote 3)). (The contribution of Stanley R. Palombo, M.D. to this paragraph is kindly acknowledged).)
[Salman Akhtar, M.D. emphasizes the centrality of splitting and identity confusion in schizoid personality.]
Also, it is likely that the subject suffers from a labile instinctual regression, with oral drive wishes competing with, but more or less completely substituted for, phallic ones. See Brenner, C. An Elementary Textbook of Psychoanalysis, at 94-95 (Anchor Books: 1974). See also Freud, S. “From the History of an Infantile Neurosis,” (1918), Standard Edition, 17:7-122, at 119 (Hogarth Press: 19550, reprinted in Freud: Three Case Histories, at 313, Reiff, P. ed. (Collier Books: 1963) (discussing the simultaneity of libidinal fixations in Freud’s analysand’s, the so called "Wolfman" [see footnote 10]). The probable coexistence and competition of oral and phallic drive wishes in the subject may account, in large measure, for his apparent vacillation between a state of (oral) dependence and his (phallic-based narcissistic) displays of vigor, arrogance, and superiority. See Reich, W. (1945) Character Analysis, at 217-224 (Noonday Press/Farrar, Straus and Giroux: 1990) (Reich notes that a typical feature of the phallic-narcissistic character is its potential transition, or regression, to a pre-phallic position of oral dependency and chronic depression.)
The subject’s fractured and diffuse identity poses significant difficulties for him in his interpersonal relations since a firm sense of identity is indispensable to an individual’s ability to relate to others, to establish meaningful and enduring relationships. Where sense of identity is impaired, object relations will be impaired. Erikson has written: “True ‘engagement’ with others is the result and test of firm self-delineation. Where this is still missing, the young individual when seeking tentative forms of playful intimacy in friendship and competition, in sex play and love, in arguments and gossip, is apt to experience a peculiar strain, as if such tentative engagement might turn into an interpersonal fusion amounting to a loss of identity, and requiring, therefore, a tense inner reservation, a caution in commitment. Where a youth does not resolve such a strain he may isolate himself and enter, at best, only stereotypical and formalized relations.” Erikson, E.H. (1959) Identity and the Life Cycle (Norton: 1980), quoted in Brenman-Gibson, M. Clifford Odets: American Playwright - The Years from 1906 to 1940, at 641 (Atheneum: 1982).
Erikson emphasizes the need for an identity that is confirmed by others. "The conscious feeling of having a personal identity is based on two simultaneous observations: the immediate perception of one’s self-sameness and continuity in time; and the simultaneous perception of the fact that they recognize one’s sameness and continuity.” Erikson, E.H. (1959) Identity and the Life Cycle (Norton: 1980, quoted in Roazen, P. Erik H. Erikson: The Powers and Limits of a Vision, at 43-44 (The Free Press: 1976). Erikson implies that the individual with a composite identity, not easily defined and from which identity recognition is withheld by others, will tend to isolate himself to preserve what is felt to be precarious.
The mutual sense of unease arising in social interaction lacking in reciprocal identity recognition is expressed in the following passage from Hesse’s novel, Steppenwolf. The Steppenwolf’s composite identity, which defies ready definition and categorization, arouses anger and disquiet among those with whom he interacts; their withholding of identity recognition, in turn, further aggravates the Steppenwolf’s tenuous sense of self.
It cannot be denied that [Harry Haller, the “Steppenwolf”] was generally unhappy and he could make others unhappy also, that is when he loved them or they him. For all who got to know him, saw only the one side of him. Many loved him as a refined and clever and interesting man, and were horrified and disappointed when they had come upon the wolf in him. And they had to because Harry wished, as every sentient being does, to be loved as a whole and therefore it was just with those whose love he most valued that he could least of all conceal and belie the wolf. There were those, however, who loved precisely the wolf in him, the free, the savage, the untamable, the dangerous and strong, and these found it particularly disappointing and deplorable when suddenly the wild and wicked wolf was also a man, had hankerings to hear Mozart, to read poetry and to cherish human ideals. Usually these were the most disappointed and angry of all; and so it was that the Steppenwolf brought his own dual and divided nature into the destinies of others besides himself whenever he came into contact with them. Hesse, H. (1929) Steppenwolf, at 49-50 (Bantam Books: 1985).
[Otto Kernberg, M.D. suggests that there is a persistant state of subjective unreality and identity diffusion in the schizoid patient, which leads to chronic feelings of emptiness.
Social interaction between the subject and others who possess a more integrated personality will tend to give rise to a mutual identity threat. Others may feel their own identity threatened by the subject’s identity diffusion, while the subject intuitively fears the strengthening of any one identity-element, through identification with others’ more unified personality, which might overwhelm other identity elements that he values. (For a discussion of the important role that the primitive ego defense of identification plays in creative people, see Greenacre, P. “The Childhood of the Artist.” The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 12: 47-72 (International Universities Press: 1975), cited in Eissler, K.R. Talent and Genius: The Fictitious Case of Tausk Contra Freud, at 254 (Quadrangle Books: 1971).
Brenman-Gibson has observed that the personalities of creative individuals characteristically encompass a diversity of identity elements and that creative persons show an unusual capacity to identify, or empathize: “The gift of empathizing, central to such diverse arts as psychotherapy and playwriting, is little understood. The special kind of imagination that permits one person to put himself ‘in the place of another’ involves at the very least some experience of incompletion on the part of the ‘I,’ with some hope of closure by way of identification with the ‘thou,’ thus often thought of in Western culture as a feminine quality. But there is more than this. There is a diffusion of identity to accommodate--as [playwright] Odets put it--an ‘inner gallery of characters,’ and there is a detached witnessing of the entire process. Put to creative use, such a ‘gallery’ may issue in the career choice of writer, actor, playwright, or any other artist. Given different dimensions, the outcome may the practice of psychotherapy.” Brenman-Gibson points out, however, “with less good fortune, a self-effacing, indecisive chameleon emerges with a chronic sense of weakness, suggestibility, fraudulence, or hypocrisy. Odets would ultimately know all of these uses of his extraordinary capacity to empathize.” Brenman-Gibson, M. Clifford Odets: American Playwright - The Years from 1906 to 1940, at 630 (Atheneum: 1982).
The acute quality of the subject’s identity diffusion is such that one might aptly describe him in the following manner. Speaking metaphorically, it is as though, having lost his “mother tongue,” he has no native language. His vocabulary comprises a collection of words from various languages, but he has no complete vocabulary in any one language. Others tend to view him as a fraud, as though he were attempting to impress them with his facility in a language in which he is obviously not fluent. Yet they are not aware that he is, in fact, fluent in no one language. As with the Steppenwolf, his composite “speech,” or personality style, arouses suspicions of disingenuousness, while the wary response of others undermines his already precarious sense of identity. (Though invoked here to illustrate a disturbance in identity, the metaphor of a “confusion of tongues” also relates to a sense of guilt. Compare the myth of the Tower of Babel in which a “confusion of tongues" is visited upon the transgressors as punishment. See Eissler, K.R. Talent and Genius: The Fictitious Case of Tausk Contra Freud at 282 (Quadrangle Books: 1971), citing Politzer, H. Der Turm und das Tier aus dem Abgrund [The Tower and the Beast from the Abyss], at 24-42. Grillparzer-Forum Forchtenstein. Vortraege, Forschungen, Berichte. (Heidelberg: Lothar Stiehm Verlag, 1969)).
12. The following vignette examines the subject's aunt's preoccupation with gardening, which, perhaps, gratified an otherwise unfulfilled maternal instinct. Examination of the energy the aunt discharged in gardening reveals the intensity of her desire to nurture and cultivate, whether plants or children. (The aunt had an historical predecessor in the person of the domestic tyrant, Daniel Gottlob Moritz Schreber, both an author of numerous tracts on child-reading (the manuals of so-called "poisonous pedagogy" referred to in footnote 13) as well as an "energetic promoter of what came to be called Schrebergarten, small plots for which cities set aside acreage to permit nostalgic urbanites to cultivate a vegetable garden. . . ." Schreber's child-rearing practices had, to say the very least, a less than salutary effect on his son, who suffered a psychotic breakdown in adulthood. See Gay, P. Freud: A Life for Our Time, at 283-284 (Norton: 1988)).
[The following coincidence is worth noting: The late Jerry M. Wiener, M.D., former Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the George Washington University Medical Center specialized in child psychiatry. In his spare time, he was an avid gardener. Make of that what you will. I entered out-patient psychotherapy at GW in September 1992, about four years after I wrote this self-analysis.]
Frustration, whether occasioned by loss or the result of unfulfilled aims, is difficult to bear. Substitute satisfactions will always be sought to mitigate the pain of loss or to soothe the grief of disappointed ambitions.
It is said of Napoleon, for example, that in exile on St. Helena, he took to gardening, attacking its problems with martial courage and discipline. Historians note that he conscripted his entire colony to join in the enterprise of digging, carting, planting, watering, and weeding. Napoleon is said to have consumed with delight the fresh vegetables that the well-watered garden produced.
Perhaps, for Napoleon, gardening provided a substitute satisfaction, a replacement for a lost empire. I have no doubt that for my aunt, gardening was a substitute for something she never had -- children.
For thwarted dictators, regardless of hue or shade -- those who have lost an empire, or those whose desire for an empire has been frustrated -- gardening provides a sublimated fulfillment of a childish wish to dominate. The garden is a world that accepts the authority of its master without question -- a world in which vigilant cultivation, a sort of horticultural discipline meted out by the gardener-as-master to his slave empire, the garden, generally assures the realization of the ideals of rigid compliance and luxuriant perfection.
Invoking Nietzsche, and a little German philology as well, we learn that "slavery is, as it seems, both in the cruder and in the more subtle sense, the indispensable means of spiritual discipline (zucht) and cultivation (zuchtung), too."
My aunt inhabited a psychological world in which the concepts of cultivation (i.e, zuchtung, in the form of compulsive pruning and weeding -- really horticultural castration) and discipline (zucht) merged; a world in which the distinction between the cultivation of plants and the disciplining of children was blurred so that reasonable pedagogic limitations on the feasibility -- not to mention desirability -- of molding absolute perfection and compliance in children were incomprehensible to her. Failure of the child to respond to cultivation would be perceived by my aunt as the thwarting of the will of the gardener, and would suggest the need for pruning -- i.e., castration -- the preferred means of dealing with weeds, overgrown plants, and obstreperous children (and troublesome males of all ages, for that matter). My aunt's motto: "If it offends the subtler taste, prune it!"
The gardener despises weeds and recalcitrant plants ("nature's rank and gross") just as the dictator abhors political dissidents; nonconformity with the established norm -- really the narcissistic ideal -- is highly threatening for both the dictator and the earnest gardener.
The presence of weeds in another person's garden -- and my aunt never failed to notice the weeds in other people's gardens -- was always an occasion for stern condemnation of both the gardener and his lax methods of cultivation. One could expect, also, a lecture on the inferiority of the species of plant, tree, and shrub found in other people's gardens, as well as a critique regarding the placement and arrangement. "That tree is too close to the house," my aunt often said, pointing to her neighbor's dwelling, "a storm might cause it to topple and damage the property." Her neighbors were obvious miscreants.
It might be said of the subject that he lives like a Napoleon-in-exile, intensively discharging his energy in substitute satisfactions of many kinds--often fruitlessly, however.
13. By means of externalizing her guilt onto the subject on countless issues, the aunt created for herself a façade of perfection and implacable strength. She, in effect, split herself into two parts--one part despised (externalized), one part idealized. Not only did she unconsciously divide herself in this fashion, but her perceptions of others were no doubt determined by this dichotomy. Thus, one was either identified with the despised portion of her ego and became an object for externalization (i.e., the subject and his father) or was identified with the idealized portion of her ego, leading to narcissistic identifications (i.e., as with the subject’s mother and sister). The aunt displayed a strong narcissistic identification with the subject’s sister, who is six years older than the subject. The bases for the identification were that, like the aunt, the subject’s sister was female, the older of two siblings, and, perhaps most significantly, they shared the same first name. Freud has observed, “The extent to which like names produce identifications in the unconscious can scarcely be appreciated by one who has not made special study of he subject.” Freud S. and Bullitt, W.C. Thomas Woodrow Wilson A Psychological Study, at 82 (Avon Books: 1968). (Perhaps the subject himself, owing to the parallels between his sister and aunt unconsciously identifies his older and somewhat authoritarian sister with his aunt. The synergy of the subject’s identification of sister and aunt might have heightened the influence of either of these two individuals on the subject’s development, conferring on the sister the authority of an adult figure, and simultaneously, imbuing the aunt with the immediacy of a sibling [cf. footnote 3]). The aunt’s idealization of the subject’s sister may have intensified the sister’s need to deny vital aspects of her self, the expression of which in childhood would have proved to be salutary, but would have jeopardized her relationship with an aunt who needed an idealized, or “perfect,” object. Further, the aunt’s narcissistic identification with the subject’s sister may have heightened the sister’s need to comply (or impeded the development of an ability to refuse to comply), out of fear of loss of love, with others’ ideals of perfection. See Andrews, J.D.W. “Psychotherapy with the Hysterical Personality: An Interpersonal Approach.” Psychiatry 47: 211-232 (1984). (It might be noted that although the sister is phobic and suffers from chronic migraine, she will bristle at the suggestion that she leads anything but a perfect life.) The aunt’s splitting and consequent externalizations and identifications form a compellingly-elegant complement to the subject’s problems of identity loss and guilt (which may be understood as an expression of the tension, or disparity, between the ego and the claims, or ideals, of the superego) and the subject’s sister’s denial of self coupled with her need to comply with others’ ideals. (A fundamental distinction in the psychology of the subject as compared with that of his sister may be stated in the following formulae, which, incidentally, further elaborate subject’s object relations. The sister introjects the ideals of others into her superego which ideals then function in the place of what would otherwise be her own ideals; her ego then follows the dictates of the introjected ideal. The subject, on the other had, seeks out objects whose ideals match those already existing in the prescriptive portion of his superego (ego ideal); his injured ego then introjects by way of identification, the valued qualities of the object, thereby enriching the ego with those qualities, and ultimately (1) diminishing the tension, or disparity (guilt), between the ego and the ego ideal, and (2) providing the ego with a bulwark against the claims of his conscience, i.e., the prescriptive portion of his superego (see final paragraph of footnote 14). By means of identification with certain others the subject obtains a general state of emotional well-being that is fundamentally grounded in a diminution of guilt. See Freud, S. (1921) "Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego" (especially the following sections: VII. Identification; VIII. Being in Love and Hypnosis; and XI. A Differentiating Grade in the Ego), reprinted in A General Selection from the Works of Sigmund Freud, at 169-209, Rickman, J. ed. (Doubleday: 1989). The subject’s ego ideal is narcissistic, and his sense of well being, when it is achieved, is that of perfect narcissistic integrity recovered through the introjection of idealized objects.)
The aunt, contrariwise, whose ego ideal was also narcissistic, recovered perfect narcissistic integrity through projection onto devalued objects, deriving by this means a sense of satisfaction and well-being. See Grunberger, B. “The Anti-Semite and the Oedipal Conflict.” International Journal of Psychoanalysis 45: 380-385, at 382 (1964).
In For Your Own Good--Hidden Cruelly in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence (Farrar, Straus and Giroux: 1983), at 80, psychoanalyst Alice Miller discusses the “complicated psychodynamic mechanisms that need be described as splitting off and projection of parts of the self, which we encounter so often in the manuals of ’poisonous pedagogy’ [see footnote 12].” Miller indicates that through the process of externalization an individual may present an image of perfection and strength at variance with that individual's unacknowledged feelings, and she implies that externalization may provide a means of dealing with unconscious guilt (or at least its maturational antecedent, an uninternalized fear of harm).
Miller writes: “Schooling oneself to be senselessly hard require[s] that all signs of weakness in oneself (including emotionalism, tears, pity, sympathy for oneself and others, and feelings of helplessness, fear and despair) be suppressed 'without mercy.' In order to make the struggle against these human impulses easier [individuals may seek] objects[s] to serve as the bearer of all these qualities that [are] abhorred because they had been forbidden and dangerous [i.e., guilt-engendering] in their childhood. . . . Freed from their ’bad’ (i.e., weak and uncontrolled) feelings, [individuals who externalize are able to] feel pure, strong, hard, clean, good, unambivalent, and morally right if everything they had feared in themselves since childhood [can] be attributed to [an external object]. Miller, A. For Your Own Good--Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence, at 80 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux: 1983).
Being compelled, as was the subject, to be the object of another’s externalizisations can profoundly affect personality development. In “Survivor Guilt and The Pathogenesis of Anorexia Nervosa Psychiatry" 48: 25-39 (1985), psychiatrist Michael Friedman explains a process whereby one person’s externalizations can produce separation guilt, for example, in another: “Novick and Kelly [Novick, J. and Kelly, K. “Projection and Externalization.” Psychoanalytic Study of the Child 25:69-95] (1970) describe an 11-year-old boy, Tommy, who saw himself as a ’damaged, messy, stupid child’ out of compliance with his mother’s need to externalize unacceptable aspects of her own self-image. Novick and Kelly present the traditional explanation for Tommy’s reasons for experiencing himself as stupid, messy, and damaged:
The main reason for accepting the mother’s externalizations lay in the realization, at some level, that despite the mother’s distancing maneuvers she needed a devalued object and that failure to comply with her need would leave him prey to the primitive terror of abandonment [i.e., separation anxiety].
Friedman continues, “However, after Tommy worked through this primitive terror of abandonment, an entirely different kind of motivation began to emerge:”
His material centered mainly on the sadness of the mother, the chaos in the home, the madness of the family members, and, related to this, his own intense feelings of guilt. It should be noted that he was guilty not about the newly attained level of functioning per se, but about having deprived the family of a needed vehicle for externalization. To a certain extent this material related to Tommy’s own feelings, fears and fantasies, but to a marked degree it also reflected the reality,
It cannot be doubted that a central underlying factor in the subject’s life difficulties is the dual guilt surrounding his relationship with his mother vis-à-vis his aunt [see footnote 13A below]. The dual aspect of the aunt’s externalizing would tend to engender a twofold guilt in the subject. That is, the act of externalizing itself, irrespective of the content of the externalization would lead to separation guilt in that the subject would, according to the dynamic set forth by Friedman, tend to develop the fear of “[depriving] the family of a needed vehicle for externalization.” While, secondarily, that part of the content of the aunt’s externalization that centered on the issue of depletion of the mother would give rise to depletion guilt, the underlying basis for acceptance of which would be separation guilt, or the fear of depriving the family of an object for externalization. The subject’s withdrawal of love from his mother may be viewed, therefore, as a desperate, symbolic act of escape from the fear of depleting the mother, which, in turn, served only to leave him prey to guilt surrounding the act of separation, or escape, itself.
(In certain fundamental respects the subject’s psychology mirrors several essential themes found in Hugo’s novel, Les Miserables. In the novel the character Valjean, jailed for the theft of a loaf of bread (“depletion guilt”), escapes from prison (“separation guilt”). The ex-convict, under an assumed identity, then transforms himself into a successful manufacturer and transforms the stagnant local industry into a prosperous enterprise. Unable to escape his past misdeeds, he is persued relentlessly by police agent Javert (a projection of the superego), who seeks the return of Valjean to prison for the dual crimes of theft and prison break. Valjean’s imprisonment for stealing a loaf of bread might be interpreted as a penalty for attempting to gratify an oral drive wish. His later rise to success (possibly fulfilling a phallic drive wish) and subsequent downfall, mediated by the intervention of a superego figure, suggests a conflict between oral and phallic drive wishes (cf. footnote 7; see footnote 11, paragraph 2)).
13A. The aunt’s externalizations, and the guilt engendered in the subject thereby, would have the additional effect of eliciting behaviors from the subject consistent with the content of the aunt’s externalizations. Thus, to cite one example, the aunt’s oft-repeated, and originally unjustified, accusation that the subject did not “respect” his mother would lead ultimately to an actual lack of respect for his mother; the subject’s behaviors might be attributed to the subject’s desire to mitigate the guilty feeling that had its origin in the aunt’s accusations. Paradoxically, the character of the subject’s interaction with his mother was not the cause but rather the effect of guilt.
Freud writes: “[A]nalytic work [has] afforded the surprising conclusion that [some] [mis]deeds are done precisely because they are forbidden, and because by carrying them out the doer enjoys a sense of mental relief. He suffered from an oppressive feeling of guilt, of which he did not know the origin, and after he had committed a misdeed the oppression was mitigated. The sense of guilt was at least in some way accounted for. Paradoxical as it may sound, I must maintain that the sense of guilt was present prior to the transgression, that it did not arise from this, but contrariwise--the transgression, from the sense of guilt. These persons we might justifiably describe as criminals from a sense of guilt. . . . With children, it is easy to perceive that they are often ‘naughty’ on purpose to provoke punishment, and are quiet and contented after the chastisement. Later analytic investigation can often find a trace of the guilty feeling [in existence prior to the commission of any misdeed] which bid them seek for punishment.” Freud, S. (1915) “Some Character-Types Met With In Psychoanalytic Work” (Section III. Criminality from a Sense of Guilt), reprinted in A General Selection from the Works off Sigmund Freud, at 102-103 (Doubleday: 1989). (The seeming contradiction of a superego simultaneously sadistic and compliant is addressed in Shengold, L. Soul Murder: The Effects of Childhood Abuse and Deprivation, at 57-59 (Yale University Press: 1989)).
Further, it is important to recognize that certain of the subject’s behaviors may reflect not only the ego’s perverse accommodation to the demands of an overweening superego, (i.e., “criminality from a sense of guilt”), but may also signify the ego’s attempt to find refuge in a negative identity: “an identity perversely based on all those identifications and roles which, at critical stages of development, had been presented to the individual as undesirable or dangerous, and yet also as most real.” Erikson, E.H. Identity and the Life Cycle (1959), at 140-141 (Norton: 1980). Erikson asserts that an individual’s choice of a “negative identity” may be dictated by his interaction with a parental figure who, because of her own psychological needs, again and again responds selectively only to those traits in the individual that seem to point to a repetition of the parental figure’s weaknesses and unexpressed wishes. In such cases the “negative identity” may take on more reality for the individual than all his natural attempts at being good: he may work hard at attaining an abject condition of stubborn paralysis of choice. In other cases, Erikson explains, the “negative identity” is dictated by the necessity of finding and defending a niche of one's own against the excessive ideals demanded by a morbidly ambitious parental figure. Erikson concludes that the choice of a “negative identity” represents a “a desperate attempt at regaining some mastery in a situation in which the available positive identity elements cancel each other out. The history of such a choice reveals a set of conditions in which it is easier to derive a sense of identity out of a total identification with that which one is least supposed to be than to struggle for a feeling of reality in acceptable roles. . . .” Identity and the Life Cycle, at 142. (Note that the adoption of a “negative identity” under the conditions described by Erikson implies the loss or corruption of a core, or “positive,” identity).
British psychiatrist, Anthony Storr, neatly synthesizing the problems of guilt and identity confusion, points out that these seemingly unrelated difficulties may have their source in a child’s interaction with an overly-critical, or excessively-demanding, parental figure. “[An existential sense of guilt] is a feeling which children who think of themselves as always in the wrong not infrequently develop. If guilt is boundless, if nothing the child does is ever right, and if he has no way of finding out what would be right, he cannot develop any confidence in himself as an authentic person with a separate identity. . . . Storr, A. Churchill’s Black Dog, Kafka’s Mice & Other Phenomena of the Human Mind, at 65 (Chapter 2: Kafka’s Sense of Identity) (Grove Press: 1988). (Storr, who characterizes the Austrian writer Franz Kafka as a schizoid personality, notes that “it is not surprising that people whose childhood experience was like that of Kafka tend to withdraw into an ivory tower of isolation where interaction with others cannot threaten them.” Id., at 66. See footnote 1, paragraph 3).
By means of externalizing unacceptable aspects of her self onto the subject, the aunt, in a kind of perverse variant of the Pygmalion myth, “molded” personality characteristics in, or elicited behaviors from, the subject that she would then proceed to castigate, thereby heightening the subject’s sense of guilt and further undermining his sense of identity.
14. The circumstances of the subject’s childhood that led to the development of a morbidly-strict conscience were no doubt discomforting to the subject at the time they were experienced. The frustrations that the subject felt as a child resulted from the presence of external obstacles that impeded the satisfaction of instinctual demands--a situation that is never pleasurable. In the course of his development, however, the inhibiting forces in the outer world became internalized; that which existed as deprivation in childhood was transformed into an internal standard, and, in adulthood, what appear to be deprivations result, in part, from the ego’s renunciations in obedience to the inner inhibiting standard, the superego. The subject’s restricted life as an adult results, to a significant degree, from the need to comply with internally-imposed restraints rather than from external obstacles or out of fear of harm from others. To those who are tempted to assert that the subject is simply weak, one might respond in the words of the poet, “Thus conscience does make cowards of us all. . . .”) Compliance with the demands of conscience, though inevitably painful, nonetheless brings a gain in pleasure, the so-called substitutive satisfaction of secondary narcissism.
[Otto Kernberg, M.D. believes that the type of psychological development that I am describing here, and that I am attributing to myself, is unusual in the contemporary world. According to Kernberg the type of superego development I describe here was common in Freud’s day, but that narcissistic pathology is more the norm in contemporary society. According to Kernberg, patients with narcissistic and borderline personality disorder represent a segment of the clinical population that has grown rapidly since the 1950s.
The progression described here tends to turn the superego into a more purely symbolic agency -- more primitive superego structures are the norm in the contemporary clinical population. A consequence is the possibility of a more personal ego ideal. All these modifications of the superego depend on the desexualization inherent to the identification process, for desexualization allows a secondary narcissism in which the ability to idealize and sublimate buttress the cathexis of new objects and social bonds.
At the clinical level, making the superego into a mental agency was one of Freud's theoretical responses to the difficult practical problems posed by certain kinds of resistance—needs for punishment, negative therapeutic reactions, moral masochism—that represent diverse expressions of unconscious guilt. Freud observed how the superego had a general propensity for cruelty, for a severity out of all proportion to that of the child's actual upbringing. This was a crucial insight, for it led him to recognize the endogenous, instinctual origin of cruelty and hence to form the hypothesis of the destructive death instincts.]
In other words, the subject, through compliance with the demands of conscience, subjectively experiences his renunciations, in part, as a valuable achievement (irrespective of whether his renunciations, by any objective standard, have any value). Work, intellectual activities, and other endeavors (or lack of endeavors), to the extent that they do not involve the participation of others are not simply a reaction to the lack of relationships, but have a subjective, psychological value and validity independent of others. Indeed, the act of renunciation itself, though frustrating to the extent that it denies the gratification of vital needs of the subject, brings with it the satisfaction that necessarily follows from compliance with inner standards or restrictions, warped as they may be. Despite the restricted nature of the subject’s life he does not appear to suffer from serious depression, which strongly suggests that he does not feel deprived, but may rather be achieving some secondary gain from renunciation. (The absence of depression may be viewed as a qualitative rather than a quantitative factor in the subject’s psychopathology; his emotional state may be said to relate more to the nature and dynamics of his psychopathology rather than to its severity).
Freud summarizes as follows the process of internalization of inhibiting forces that leads to the development of the normal superego, and suggests the important role that secondary narcissism may play in the maintaining of emotional equilibrium among those who suffer from an especially strict conscience. (He further implies at the outset that the ego defense of intellectualization (as opposed to rationalization) may balance, or mitigate, the discomfort flowing from the diminution of the ability to experience sensual pleasure, i.e., anhedonia (cf. footnote 9)).
"It is not at all obvious why progress in spirituality [which consists in deciding in favor of the so-called higher intellectual processes, namely, memories, reflection, and deduction] and subordination of the senses should raise the self-confidence of a person. . . . [A possible explanation lies in the emergence of secondary narcissism that accompanies compliance with the demands of the superego]. When the Id makes an instinctual demand of an erotic or aggressive nature on a human being, the most simple and natural response for the Ego,
which governs the apparatus for thinking and muscle innervation, is to satisfy this by an action. This satisfaction of the instinct is felt as pleasure by the Ego, just as not satisfying this instinct would undoubtedly become a source of discomfort. Now it may happen that the Ego eschews satisfaction of the instinct because of external obstacles, namely, when it realizes that the action in question would bring in its course serious
danger to the Ego. Such a refraining from satisfaction, an " instinctual renunciation " because of external obstacles as we say, in obedience to the reality-principle is never pleasurable. The instinctual renunciation would bring about a lasting painful tension if we did not succeed in diminishing the strength of the instinctual urge itself through a displacement of energy. This instinctual renunciation may also be forced on us, however, by other motives, which we rightly call inner ones. In the course of individual development a part of the inhibiting forces in the outer world becomes internalized; a standard is created in the Ego which opposes the other faculties by observation, criticism and prohibition. We call this new standard the super-ego. From now
on the Ego, before undertaking to satisfy the instincts, has to consider not only the dangers of the outer world, but also the objections of the super-ego, and has therefore more occasion for refraining from satisfying the instinct. While, however, instinctual renunciation for external reasons is only painful, renunciation for internal
reasons, in obedience to the demands of the super-ego, has another economic effect. It brings besides the inevitable pain a gain in pleasure to the Ego as it were, a substitutive satisfaction. The Ego feels uplifted; it is proud of the renunciation as of a valuable achievement. We think we can follow the mechanism of this gain in pleasure. The super-ego is the successor and representative of the parents (and educators), who superintended the actions of the individual in his first years of life; it perpetuates their functions almost without
a change. It keeps the Ego in lasting dependence and exercises a steady pressure. The Ego is concerned, just as it was in childhood, to retain the love of its master, and it feels his appreciation as a relief and satisfaction, his reproaches as pricks of conscience. When the Ego has made the sacrifice to the super-ego of renouncing an instinctual satisfaction, it expects to be rewarded by being loved all the more. The consciousness of deserving this love is felt as pride. At a time when the authority was not yet internalized as super-ego the relation between the threatened loss of love and the instinctual demand would have been the same. A feeling of security and satisfaction results if out of love to one's parents one achieves an instinctual renunciation. This good feeling could acquire the peculiar narcissistic character of pride only after the authority itself had become a part of the Ego." Freud, S. (1939) Moses and Monotheism, at 148-150 (Vintage: 1967).
[The late Columbia professor Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi writes in Freud's Moses: Judaism Terminable and Interminable that the above passage from Moses and Monotheism devoted to the theme of "Progress in Spirituality" is the most significant portion of Freud's book. Professor Yerushalmi's book was published in 1991, a few years after I wrote this self-analysis.]
Contemporary object relations theorists ascribe superego development to a process of gradual internalization of parental images. The abrupt, defensive, and premature internalization of a parental image occurring without adequate neutralization of ambivalent feelings toward the parent may lead to the formation of psychic structures that predispose the individual to guilt in its pathological manifestations (cf. footnote 3).
"[I]ntrojection of and identification with aspects of the parent occur as part of the process of separation. At each point where the child relinquishes ties to the object and takes a further step in separation and differentiation, he seeks to hold onto the parent by taking an image of her inside. [The internalized image of the mother is “[g]radually augmented by introjections of idealized and punishing aspects of the father” (cf. footnote 6). See Freeman, Daniel M.A., Foulks, E.F., and Freeman, P.A. “Superego Development and Psychopathology” The Psychoanalytic Study of Society 7:107-122, 1t 119 (Yale University Press: 1976).] Normally, at rapprochement, there is a gradual process of introjection that extends over a considerable period of time. At first, very ambivalent feelings are still present toward the object (though these are less intense than in the previous period when “good” and “bad” images and feelings could not be tolerated in juxtaposition at all). It is only gradually, by a continuing process of bringing together the two sides of the ambivalent feelings, that an emotionally stable intrapsychic representation of the object is achieved. The internalizations of the parent contribute to the establishment of impulse control mechanisms. The two sets of feelings toward the introjects become the source of two parallel lines of development of superego precursors. The loved and loving aspect of the object is idealized and combined with ideal self-images to form the “ego-ideal.” The precipitates of coercive interactions become the nucleus for the authoritative and punishing side of the introjects, known as the “superego precursor” [referred to at various points in this discussion as the “conscience”]. Where a separation is sudden, however, . . . an abrupt defensive internalization occurs prematurely, without the gradual process of bringing together and neutralization of the two sides of the ambivalent feelings. The two sides of the introjects thus internalized (ego-ideal and superego precursor) [have] not been adequately moderated through gradual rapprochement cycles. The result [is] an ego ideal with excessive primitive idealization and a superego precursor with excessive sadistic harshness." Freeman, Daniel M. A., Foulks, E.F., and Freeman, P.A. (1976) “Ghost Sickness and Superego Development in the Kiowa Apache Male” The Psychoanalytic Study of Society 7:123-171, at 134-135 (Yale University Press: 1976).
[Ironically, one of the consulting editors on volume 7 of The Psychoanalytic Study of Society was Gertrude R. Ticho, M.D., who reportedly advised my former employer, the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld that I was paranoid and potentially violent in late October 1991.
I wrote the first version of this paper in October 1988. In the summer of 1989 I typed up a revised version of the paper on Akin Gump's computer system. Akin Gump's managers therefore had access to this paper via the firm's computer network.
In early August 1990, I formed the paranoid idea of reference that Akin Gump provided a copy of this paper to Gertrude R. Ticho, M.D. and her husband, the psychoanalyst Ernst Ticho, Ph.D., and that one of the two analysts said that I had done "a good job." I formed that paranoid idea of reference in August 1990 before I knew that Gertrude Ticho was a personal friend of Akin Gump manager Malcolm Lassman, and before I learned that Akin Gump was disposed to discuss my case with her, as the firm admitted in a sworn statement (May 1992). That is an exceptionally peculiar coincidence! (Ernst Ticho was Otto Kernberg's mentor, by the way.)
Akin Gump's Employee Assistance Program provider, Shepperd Pratt admits that I submitted a copy of this paper to that organization in September 1989:
The vacillations apparent in the subject’s interpersonal relations may be traced to his own internal psychological functioning, specifically, to the relationship of an ambivalent ego to a powerful and bifurcated superego comprising conscience (superego precursor) and ego-ideal. Certain trends in the subject’s ego seek to placate an exacting superego precursor by complying with that agency’s need to deny the ego’s instinctual demands; these trends are rewarded with the gain afforded by secondary narcissism. Other trends in the ego oppose submission to the claims of the superego precursor and seek the satisfaction of instinctual demands; the strength of these latter trends may be enhanced through the ego’s identification with individuals who resemble the ego-ideal (see footnote 13, paragraph 1). See Freeman, Daniel M.A., Foulks, E.F., and Freeman, P.A. “Ghost Sickness and Superego Development in the Kiowa Apache Male” The Psychoanalytic Study of Society 7:123-171, at 145-146 (Yale University Press: 1976) (discussing the choice by the Kiowa Apache male of a friend or alter ego, based on characteristics that the individual feels he needs in order to complete himself and restore his original feeling of narcissistic safety and well-being). The subject’s hesitations in interpersonal relations would appear to be a function of the relative strengths, which vary at any given time, of competing trends within his ego vis-à-vis the superego precursor and the ego-ideal.