Saturday, August 27, 2011

Significant Moments: You Must First Jump Into the Ocean

     Annie Reich has written on the function of rescue fantasies in psychoanalytic work, and has dealt with the conditions under which they are helpful or cause damage. The rescue fantasy is a highly important psychic structure, on which the socially valuable behavior of many people depends. Yet the fantasy is the outgrowth of ambivalence . . .; it makes social behavior dependent on the object's being in a critical condition. A person has to be in dire distress before the appropriate social action is initiated, and the positive object relationship is usually discontinued soon after the object's full restoration. The man who is preoccupied by an excessive rescue fantasy seems to say: "If you want me to love you and to win my affection, you must first jump into . . .
K.R. Eissler, Talent and Genius.
. . . the water, . . .
Jack London, The Sea Wolf.
. . . the dark moving water . . .
Francis Goodrich, Albert Hackett and Frank Capra, It’s a Wonderful Life.
. . . of the . . .
Jack London, The Sea Wolf.
. . . lake." It is noteworthy to observe how often subjects in whose lives rescue fantasies occupy a prominent place, are deficient in affectionate behavior toward members of their immediate environment.
K.R. Eissler, Talent and Genius.
Talent and Genius, published in 1971, is itself a work of extreme eccentricity. It was written in response to another book, published two years earlier, entitled Brother Animal: The Story of Freud and Tausk, by Paul Roazen, which implicated Freud in the suicide, at the age of forty, of one of his early disciples, Victor Tausk. Roazen's book is trivial and slight. Its scholarship, like that of many other works of pop history, does not hold up under any sort of close scrutiny. But, unlike most pop historians, whose sins against the spirit of fact go undetected because nobody takes the trouble to check up on them, Roazen had the misfortune to attract the notice of someone who was willing to go to any lengths to catch him out. In Talent and Genius, Eissler administers one of the most severe trouncings of one scholar by another in the annals of scholarly quarreling. Like Superman rushing to the aid of a victim of injustice, Eissler hastened to defend Freud against what he believed "may properly be called the most brutal attack ever directed at him"—Roazen's insinuation that Freud was to blame for Tausk's death because, motivated by sexual and professional jealousy, he turned away from him at a crucial moment.
Janet Malcolm, In the Freud Archives.
The exhibitionistic, narcissistic background of the rescue fantasy is evident: accomplishment in the service of the object leads to a narcissistic elevation of the self. In Tausk's instance it is striking that rescue actions were more often than not combined with a considerable aggression against authority. It is hardly possible to estimate what might have been the stronger motive in Tausk's case: the rescue of a person in danger, or the showing up of abusive authority.
K.R. Eissler, Talent and Genius.
During World War I, Tausk served on the Austrian front as an army psychiatrist. He acted with genuine heroism in protecting deserters from the Imperial Austrian Army which enlisted peasants who had never understood what conscription meant.
Paul Roazen, Tausk's Contribution to Psychoanalysis.
Such command no more respect than men of straw or a lump of dirt. They have the same sort of worth only as horses and dogs.
Henry David Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience.
Helpless and confused young men found themselves in danger of being shot for their simple primitive desire to creep back to the shelter of their homes. Unlike psychiatrists who behaved sadistically toward all 'malingerers', Tausk went out of his way to save people, using psychiatric diagnoses for humane ends. He intervened, for example, in behalf of a young boy who was to be court-martialed for failure to help shoot a whole group of enemy prisoners . . .
Paul Roazen, Tausk's Contribution to Psychoanalysis.
. . . American and British prisoners of war, who were . . .
Leonard Shengold, Soul Murder.
. . probably akin to him in spirit, in education, in moral discipline and values.
Boris Pasternak, Dr. Zhivago.
Tausk saved his life by testifying that such a boy, reared in the highest standards of civilized life, could not be expected to assist in such an execution.
Paul Roazen, Tausk's Contribution to Psychoanalysis.
With some, of course, who had been the recipients of his not infrequent rescue actions, he had a reputation for goodness. But it would be a gross mistake in psychological judgment if one were to equate acts of rescue with the presence of goodness.
K.R. Eissler, Talent and Genius.

I spent about two weeks in Atlantic City, from August 15 to August 26.  I had ten days at the beach.  I would have had eleven days, but it rained all day on Thursday August 25, and I'm not hard-core or psychotic enough to spend time on the beach in the rain.

I parked myself at the Montgomery Avenue Lifeguard station a block down from the Tallahassee Avenue Lifeguard station in front of the Plaza and Berkley Condominiums, a few blocks from Ventnor.  The lifeguards at the Montgomery Avenue station were men.  I have misogynist tendencies, and I refuse to be protected by the famale lifeguards stationed at Tallahassee Avenue.  If women can compete with male swimmers, why are swimming competitions divided by sex.  Do you ever see a female swimmer compete against Michael Phelps?  Of course not!  No woman could compete with Michael Phelps.

Call it sexist or gay, but I would rather entrust my life to David Hasselhoff than to Pamela Anderson.

Yes, women make excellent federal judges, attorneys general, and secretaries of state -- but while I'm on the beach, I prefer to be watched over by male lifeguards.  Is that so wrong?