Thursday, December 08, 2011

Letter from Sister: June 1980 -- Psychoanalytical Issues

The following is a handwritten letter my sister sent me in Spokane, Washington in June 1980.  I had just completed my first year of law school.  I was taking a summer course in Criminal Procedure.  I transferred to Temple University Law School in Philadelphia two months later, in late August 1980.  I was 26 years old at the time.  Our mother had died in early January 1980.  I was the sole beneficiary of my mother's life insurance in the amount of $18,500.  I voluntarily gave $10,000 to my sister and kept the remainder.  The reference in the letter to a paperback book my sister sent to me (about Jewish history) was apparently my sister's offer of thanks for the $10,000 I had gifted to her.   (The observation "Venice isn’t sinking anymore" is possibly a symbolic reference to my sister's financial situation, which was much improved by her inheritance from our mother -- which kept the Jacobsons "afloat.")

My sister was 32 years old at the time.  Meredith was her five-year-old daughter.  EJ was her late husband, Edward Jacobson.

Note the numerous references to issues surrounding food.  Also note the perfectionism and precision: "8:10 AM," for example.  There are also references to competitiveness (the reference to the movie about two characters competing to lose their virginity; the reference to Meredith's swimming class).  These are all characteristics of the personality of the high functioning anorectic individual, according to the psychologist Drew Westen.  According to the psychoanalyst Michael Friedman, M.D., survivor guilt is associated with families preoccupied with food and eating.  See Friedman, M. "Survivor Guilt and the Pathogenesis of Anorexia Nervosa."

"Uncle Stanley" is Stanley Weinstein, M.D., Edward Jacobson's maternal uncle who was suffering from lung cancer at the time, and died later in 1980.  Dr. Weinstein was married to Janet Weinstein.  The Weinsteins lived in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania.  One of their sons, Michael Weinstein, Esq., is a tax attorney who practices in Philadelphia.  The Weinsteins had two other sons, Eric and Steven.

I had visited Venice, Italy in the late summer of 1978, two years earlier.


Importers - Exporters

Executive Offices
113 Coopers Kill Road
Delran, New Jersey, 08075

(609) 461-5121

8:10 AM
Mon., June 23, 1980

Dear Gary,

Right now I am about to enjoy my breakfast and make this a good copy of a rough draft of a letter I wrote to you yesterday on scrap paper while at the swim club.

Sun. 6/22/80

How is everything including your class going?

Right now I’m at the swim club and it’s partly cloudy.  The sun makes an appearance about every 20-25 minutes.  Meredith just got some money for French fries and I just interrupted writing this letter to give her money for an ice cream sandwich.  I told her she could get 2 treats today.  Yesterday I brought a tuna sandwich that she ate for lunch but today she ate lunch (an orange) at home.

She started swimming lessons in the intermediate class on 6/16 but about Wednesday she said she felt funny because all the others in the class can swim better than she can.  This is true because she is the youngest in the class.  I tried to reassure her that she was doing very well.  I asked the teacher if she could join the beginner class and she said she could although she really belongs in the intermediate.  The windup was that Meredith, when told she could join the beginner class, decided she’d rather be in the intermediate after all.

Last night we ate dinner at Jack’s.  I had a turkey breast sandwich (hold the mayo) with lettuce & tomato on rye.  I left most of the bread.  EJ had a corned beef special & a small order of French fried onion rings.  You should have seen the size of the order.  So big!  I can’t imagine what the large order looks like.  I knew he couldn’t finish them all; I was so tempted but my great will power won out after all -- today starts my seventh week, that’s seven weeks of abstinence (less one meal).

After dinner last night the movie “Chapter Two" was supposed to start at 9:40 PM, according to the Bulletin.  We got to the movies at 9:10 just to be sure but it was already letting out and there was a line going around the corner.  Obviously a misprint in the paper.  Then we were going to see “Brubaker" about prison reform with Robert Redford but it didn’t start until 10:25 PM, so we settled for “Little Darlings.”  Cute, a little dumb though.  Kristy McNichol & Tatum O’Neal have a contest at a summer camp to see who will lose her virginity first.  The ending was kind of interesting.   Kristy is really a good little actress in my book.

Next Sunday we’re supposed to go swimming at Neil’s and Lois’.  They moved into a house with a pool last February. 

EJ’s mom and Dad are supposed to visit Uncle Stanley today.  He is really supposed to be suffering.  Mildred had suggested he come out to eat with them (heretofore many friends were coming & taking them out to dinner - he can't drive) but now he says he’s in too much pain.

You may find this hard to believe but I edited some of the boring stuff out of this letter.

I read in the N.Y. Times that Venice isn’t sinking anymore.

I joined Book-of-the-Month Club to get some cookbooks.  I thought that would be a good way.  I chose 3 cookbooks out of the 1st 4 selections because that’s all they offered.  I hope they offer some during the two year period.  I really wanted "The N.Y Times Cookbook”--  it looks great.  What I didn’t order was “The New N.Y. Times Cookbook,” hopefully just an updated version

I am enclosing a book EJ & I picked up on Saturday and thought you might like and hope you haven’t read.  (The book will arrive under separate cover).

Take care,

Love always.



Gary Freedman said...

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
them. 2.13

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]

Gary Freedman said...

Mildred Bernstein was Edward Jacobson's maternal aunt -- brother of Stanley Weinstein.

Gary Freedman said...

When Stanley Weinstein died, my sister drove all the way from her home in New Jersey to the Norristown, Pennsylvania courthouse (county seat of Montgomery County) to read Stanley Weinstein's will to see if Dr. Weinstein had left any money to Edward Jacobson. This is an example of my sister's venality and the precariousness of her financial situation.

Gary Freedman said...

Janet A Weinstein 81

Pompano Beach, FL
Wyncote, PA
Boca Raton, FL
Cheltenham, PA

Michael P Weinstein
Stanley Weinstein
Henry J Nitzky
Eric L Weinstein
J W Nitzky