TO: Nancy Shaffer, Ph.D.
FROM: Gary Freedman
DATE: October 25, 2000
RE: Job Harassment -- Stereotyping
Back in August 2000 we reviewed a statement I had prepared titled: STATEMENT OF GARY FREEDMAN CONCERNING MENTAL STATUS AFFIRMATION MADE BY THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA OFFICE OF CORPORATION COUNSEL.
You noted that a prominent feature of the writing was my references to homosexual innuendo. You questioned why a law firm that was friendly to homosexuals would single me out for homosexual innuendo as a form of aggression.
Dr. Rothenberg's book Creativity and Madness suggests one possible interpretation: that the content of the innuendo related to my status as an outsider. Rothenberg, in a discussion of social marginality, identifies several groups, namely, homosexuals, Jews, expatriates, disabled persons, and younger siblings (and creative persons) who may to varying degrees be cut off from the social mainstream.
Extending Rothenberg's observations to the issue of stereotyping, perhaps, stereotypes relating to any specific class of outsider may apply to any other class of outsider. Thus, for example, my sister's and brother-in-law's views of me (as a younger sibling) will match up with, and confer a deceptive credibility to, the assessments of my coworkers among whom I was an outsider.
Something I found striking in Rothenberg's book (page 106) was his citation to the idea that a defense against, or reaction formation to, anality can heighten an individual's aesthetic sensibility. This links up with my idea that a defense against anality may also be associated with an impaired ability to derive a sense of narcissistic integrity by merger with a social system. See Letter dated August 5, 1998 (p. 3) from Gary Freedman to Lisa Osborne re: the clinical assessments of William Brown, Ph.D. 1/ It may well be that for some persons fragments of defended against anality will play a role in personality style and social adjustment.
Oddly enough, one can interpret the above-referenced "Statement" as reflecting fragments of defended against anality, expressed in both the structure and content of the writing. The writing's structure suggests an aesthetic need to confer symmetry and order on seemingly unrelated trivial events (see Rothenberg); while the content of the writing elaborates the status of marginality, or the social consequences of an inability to merge with a social system (and, further, the writing condemns the anal allusions of the dominant group as a form of aggression directed against the outsider).
1/ "It is interesting to observe that the consequences of social behavior of pre-autonomous superego functioning may be similar to the social effects of a particular level of libidinal phase development, namely, the anal phase. (Conversely, it may be expected that rigid reaction formations against anality together with guilt in relation to a harsh, autonomous superego may entail specific and profound consequences for an individual's social functioning. See e.g., Fernando, J. "The Exceptions: Structural and Dynamic Aspects." In: The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. Vol. 52: 17-28 at 21 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997)).
For the regressed anal character "only the organic insertion within an organized social system gives narcissistic importance to the individual and only this form of narcissistic integrity is capable of giving him a phallus." Grunberger, B. "The Anti-Semite and the Oedipal Conflict." International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 45: 380-385, 384 (1964). A therapist's insistent recommendation that a client interact with others, to the extent that that denies the intrapsychic sources of the client's distress, may reflect the dominant role of anality in the therapist's personality and his failure to develop reaction formations against it."