Monday, February 28, 2011

U.S. Department of Justice Interview: An Object Relations Perspective

On Friday January 15, 2010 I was interviewed at my residence by two officers from the U.S. Department of Justice about a law enforcement matter.  The officers said they were concerned about the law enforcement implications of my behaviors as well as statements published on this blog, My Daily Struggles, that seemed to indicate that I was "angry" or "very angry" about a prior judicial determination rendered by one of the DOJ's protectees.

It was my (possibly paranoid) perception that the interview was conducted by the DOJ for the purpose of intimidation.  I believed that my former employer, a law firm, was concerned about my publishing facts that were embarrassing to the firm.  One of the firm's senior counsel is a personal friend of the U.S. Attorney General and reportedly tried to buy the silence of a White House intern in the late 1990s: an individual who had embarrassing evidence that could involve former President Clinton in scandal.  I continue to suspect that the the DOJ interview in January 2010 was conducted to cause me to curtail or stop my publishing facts about my former employer.

The DOJ concluded that I posed a risk of harm to one of it's protectees and invoked its continuing and indefinite jurisdiction by requiring me to obtain the (discretionary) approval of the DOJ in case I intended to visit my local U.S. District Court: a kind of limited but indefinite "protective order."

Assuming my interpretations of the facts are correct, what psychoanalytical foundation is there to support the inference that the DOJ was attempting to intimidate me?

Object relations theory is a psychodynamic theory within psychoanalytic psychology.  The theory describes the process of developing a mind as one grows in relation to others in the environment. The "objects" of the theory are both real others in one's world, and one's internalized image of others. Object relationships are initially formed during early interactions with primary care givers. These early patterns can be altered with experience, but often continue to exert a strong influence throughout life.

The term "object relations theory" was formally coined by Ronald Fairbairn in 1952, but the line of thought being referred to was active in shaping psychoanalysis from 1917 onwards.  Object relations theory was actively pioneered throughout the 1940s and 50s by British psychologists Ronald Fairbairn, Melanie Klein, Donald Winnicott,  Harry Guntrip, Scott Stuart, and others.  One of the leading contemporary object relations theorists is Otto Kernberg, M.D. 

Objects are initially comprehended in the infant mind by their functions and are termed "part objects." The breast that feeds the hungry infant is the "good breast." The hungry infant that finds no breast is in relation to the "bad breast."

Internal objects are formed by the patterns emerging in one's repeated subjective experience of the care taking environment. These internalized images may or may not be accurate representations of the actual, external others. With a "good enough" "facilitating environment" part object functions eventually transform into a comprehension of whole objects. This corresponds with the ability to tolerate ambiguity, to see that both the "good" and the "bad" breast are a part of the same "mummy."

Permit me to apply these object relations theories to the DOJ interview.

The DOJ officer who interviewed me experiences a sharp split between the internalized "good object" and the internalized "bad object."  His conscious perception of himself is that he is a good object.  His protectees are projections of the good object (the good mother imago).  His conscious world is one of bliss; he sees himself as the perfect child of the perfect mother.  The good object is benign and without aggression.  The good object risks contamination or injury by the bad object.  The bad object (the subject of the interview) is a repository of the officer's projected aggressive impulses and fear.  The DOJ officer would tend to project onto me the qualities of aggression (a tendency toward violent acting out) and fear (the tendency to be easily intimidated).

Perhaps I might offer the following interpretations.

1.  I was seen by the officer as potentially violent  (a projection of the officer's internalized bad object).  But crucially, I was also seen as particularly fearful; thus I was seen as an individual who could be easily intimidated.

2.  By imposing a "protective order" that would dissuade me from visiting the District Court, the officer was acting out the infantile fantasy of keeping the aggressive bad object (me) separate from the benign and vulnerable good object (DOJ's protectees). 

Additional psychoanalytic observations about the officer were published at the following posts:

Something I found interesting at the interview happened at the beginning when the officer and I first sat down.  He seated himself on a chair in my apartment.  I seated myself on a futon, where I also sleep.  The officer glanced at the futon and smiled with a look that I would describe as sexual in nature.  It was my perception that the officer was projecting both aggressive and sexual impulses to me.

As I say, my aggression is sublimated in analysis and intellectualized productions.  I suppose you could call me -- as well as Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, and Emile Zola -- "the thinking man's terrorist."


Gary Freedman said...

It seems to be a recurring feature of my disturbed relations with people that those who project aggression onto me also project forbidden sexual impulses.
Stacey Schaar, an Akin Gump coworker, said to me in August 1989: "We're all afraid of you. We're all afraid you're going to buy a gun, bring it in, and shoot everybody."

Stacey Schaar also seemed excessively invested in the idea that I was a homosexual who was in love with my friend Craig.

To Stacey Schaar I was both a homicidal maniac (a projection of aggression) and a passive homosexual (a projection of fear).

To the DOJ officer I was both a threat (a projection of aggression) and easily intimidated (a projection of fear).

Gary Freedman said...

How did the Secret Service interview differ from the DOJ interview?

I was interviewed by a U.S. Secret Service Agent on November 18, 2010. At one moment in the interview I said that I was a crime victim. Significantly, the agent had a sincere, pained expression on his face. He seemed to empathize with me.

It was my perception that the Secret Service agent had good ambiguity tolerance. He was able to process the possibility that I could be both a crime victim (a victim of aggression) and a potential threat (an aggressor.)
His perception of me as a potential threat did not block out his ability to empathize with me. He had good ambiguity tolerance. Psychoanalytically, this agent had matured to the point where he could see that the good mummy and the bad mummy were one and the same mummy.

The DOJ officer did not seem to show much or any empathy. He could only see me as a potential threat (a bad object).