Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Akin Gump Job Harassment -- Speculations about Fear and Jealousy

I wrote the following letter four months before I learned, via a telephone conversation on the evening of July 1, 1993 with a coworker at the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld (Mrs. Pat McNeil), that a brief time after I was terminated, my direct supervisor told her employees she feared I might return to the office and kill everybody.  That evidence, unknown to me as of February 1993, is not inconsistent with the following analysis or thoughts.

February 22, 1993
3801 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Apartment 136
Washington, DC 20008

Suzanne M. Pitts, MD
Dept. of Psychiatry
GW Univ. Medical School
2150 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20037

Dear Dr. Pitts:

The following are some speculations regarding a possible basis for my co-workers’ statements that they were afraid of me. Certain regularities, or patterns, begin to emerge if one examines the facts surrounding the statements of fear by particular individuals.  Based on the following anecdotes, the inference emerges that co-workers' allegations of hear are actually part of a complex of irrational, Oedipally-charged fear, hostility, and jealousy: that in those cases in which fear is expressly stated, jealousy, and, by implication, hostility, also appear to be prominent, though unstated concerns. It is significant that fear and jealousy co-exist at the Oedipal stage; these affects predominate in the child’s reaction to the father during the Oedipal period, with the fear of the father being a transformation of the child’s unconscious aggressive hostility directed toward his [envied] rival, the father.

There is some reason to suppose that the statements of fear arise most prominently in interactions in which rivalry is an important issue: that the conscious fear masks unconscious hostility and jealousy vis-à-vis some third party, such as a friend, supervisor or employer.

There also appears to be a link between the statements of fear and the rumor that I am homosexual; those employees who stated that they were afraid of me were more often than not the same employees who most actively engaged in homosexual harassment.  Where rumors of homosexuality arise, the issue of rivalry as an instigating factor may be prominent. Spitzer, R.L. et al. DSM-III-R Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Revised Edition) Case Book, at 239 (American Psychiatric Press 1989). Cf. Greenberger, B. “The Anti-Semite and the Oedipal Conflict.” International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 45: 380-385 (1964) (discussing the perception of the Jew as both fear-inspiring, all-powerful father and [homosexual] castrate).

1. In August 1989, an agency-supplied temporary, Stacey Schaar, with whom I shared office space said to me, "We’re all afraid of you. We’re all afraid you’re going to buy a gun, bring it in and shoot everybody.”

On August 1, 1989 I was hired as a full-time legal assistant with benefits.

During the week of July 31, 1989 I went to dinner with Jesse Raben and his roommate, a rare social interaction with a co-worker (Stacey Schaar had repeatedly engaged in homosexual innuendo with regard to my friendship with Craig Dye, which was probably based on jealousy.)

Stacey Schaar had actively engaged in homosexual harassment.

On Friday July 28, 1989, Stacey Schaar and I were assigned by the legal assistant coordinator, J.D. Neary to cite check a brief. That was the first time I worked on a project with her. As Stacey Schaar and I were leaving Neary’s office, after he had made the assignment, Stacey Schaar said to me, “isn’t this a dream come true?” I said, “Isn’t what a dream come true?” She said, “Working with J.D.” There is a possibility that she was really referring to working with me. We worked together all day in the firm’s library. She was affable and friendly. She indicated in no way whatsoever that she was afraid of me; she seem seemed to enjoy working with me.

Earlier during the summer of 1989, Stacey Schaar stopped by my desk, at the time we shared office space, and told me that someone had placed a trash can on her desk. She seemed upset and asked me if I had any idea who might have placed the trash can on her desk. (This was at the point in time when Stacey Schaar and another employee, Gwen Lesh, were having an ongoing feud, though I have no idea who placed the trash can on her desk).  Stacey Schaar indicated in no way whatsoever that she suspected that I had placed the trash can on her desk, despite her conviction, stated quite strongly in August 1989, that she viewed me as seriously disturbed, potentially violent, and that she feared me."
There is ample reason to believe that Stacey Scar’s statement that she feared me, in August 1989, had a sexual basis, or that the statement of fear was conjoined with, and masked, feelings of jealousy.

2. At another place of employment a co-worker told me that he was afraid of me. He suggested that I seek professional help, that therapy might help “take the edge off" my personality. On another occasion I asked the employee if he was anti-Semitic. He matter of factly told me that he was anti-Semitic, that he resented the success of many Jews. He said “Success comes so easily to Jews they don’t even have to work hard to be successful. Everybody else has to work so hard to be successful." The feelings of jealousy in the above statement are on the surface.

This employee also used to emphasize my narcissism, which he felt was an important aspect of my personality dysfunction. The characterization “narcissistic" can be interpreted psychoanalytically as a reversal/projection of jealousy.

(This employee did not engage in “homomania.”)

One wonders whether there might be some relation between this employee’s jealousy-based resentment of Jews, his characterization of me as narcissistic, and the employee’s statement that he feared me.

3. At the termination meeting on October 29, 1991 Dennis Race advised me that the legal assistant administrator and legal assistant coordinator, J.D. Neary, had told him that they couldn’t work with me, that they were afraid of me.’’

I believe that J.D. Neary was active in spreading a rumor that I was homosexual.  Dr. Spitzer interprets the spreading of a rumor that another is homosexual to feelings of envy.  Spitzer, R. L., et al. DSM-III-R Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Revised Edition) Case Book, at 239 (American Psychiatric Press: 1989) (discussing diagnosis 301.81, “False Rumors”) (whether my own preoccupation with others’ envy of me is indicative of my own narcissistic disorder is an open question. But see paragraph 4.).

In this case, as in the previous two cases, there is reason to believe that the statement of fear was joined with, and masked, feelings of jealousy.

4. The following observations are of undetermined relevance, but they appear to be material on a possible relation between fear and jealousy.

While I was in therapy with Dr. Palombo, in 1990, I stated my belief that others were afraid of me. Dr. Palombo said, “No, you are afraid of other people.” Dr. Palombo dismissed my perception as being no more than a projection; the possibility that others might be afraid of me was apparently inconceivable to him and inconsistent with the feelings I aroused in him.  On the issue of jealousy, Dr. Palombo stated on a number of occasions his interpretation that a recurring feature of my interpersonal relations was other persons’ feelings of jealousy of me, and that some of my behaviors were attempts to cope with other persons’ jealousy. On no occasion did Dr. Palombo refer to mood swings in me, or that he feared or felt threatened by me (despite my expression of strong anger at a session on Friday April 13, 1990).

You have diagnosed me as suffering from a mood disorder, and have ascribed others’ statements of fear as a rational and justified reaction to my labile moods (unintentionally allying yourself with co-workers whose statements of fear may in reality mask jealousy--a possible instance of negative counter-transference). As a basis for the diagnosis, you cited the fact that you felt threatened by me; the possibility that others might be afraid of me is apparently conceivable to you and consistent with the feelings I arouse in you. You said I am not even aware of these mood swings and the effect I have on others, while Dr. Palombo had dismissed my “awareness” of others’ fears as projective.


Gary Freedman


Gary Freedman said...

Anti-semitism has been called the longest hatred. The passions that fuel antisemitism — among them, fear, envy, jealousy, resentment, suspicion, anger, xenophobic wariness and distrust--remain constant, but the forms this hatred takes change over time.


Gary Freedman said...

Note that the posted letter to Dr. Pitts dated February 1993 predates by 5 years Otto Kernberg's book, Ideology, Conflict, and Leadership in Groups and Organizations (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998).


I quote Dr. Kernberg's observations about envy, jealousy, and fear in group situations in the following blog post:


Gary Freedman said...

Harry Stack Sullivan, M.D. on the dynamics of jealousy and envy in group situations: