FINAL VERSION — Therapy Session: 10/16/2017

DR. CALIGOR:  You are the first person since Freud to do a complete analysis of yourself.  You are brilliant, Freedman!

FREEDMAN:  Dr. Kernberg thinks I’m brilliant.

DR. CALIGOR:  But not that brilliant!!

YYYYY-Sunday Evening October 16 2017 therapy summary

The ideas and conclusions in my letter seem crazy but the fact remains that we see evidence of the following in my personality. Then the only remaining question is: how do the known pieces fit together.

1. We see evidence of depressive anxiety (1) in my literary references, (2) in my difficulties in groups, and (3) in my obsessive preoccupation with psychoanalysis.

2. We see evidence of a fear of maternal engulfment in my difficult relations with female therapists, including one therapist who got so bent out of shape that she wanted to prescribe Haldol.

3. We see evidence of intense idealization of certain individuals — including one whom I am court ordered not to mention.

4. We see a lack of evidence of history of severe devaluation of others (like Trump) that would be suggestive of paranoid-schizoid splitting.

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The Representation of Depressive Anxiety in Significant Moments

Hanna Segal has written about depressive anxiety in the following terms: as recreating the world anew from the dead fragments, infusing life into dead fragments — it is about recreating life.  It is a conflict with disorder.  This need to recreate a lost world appears to be an almost organic, recursive process.

It is when the world within us is destroyed, when it is dead and loveless, when our loved ones are in fragments, and we ourselves are in helpless despair, it is then that we must recreate our world anew, reassemble the pieces, infuse life into dead fragments, re-create life. . . . [T]he wish to create is rooted in the depressive position and the capacity to create depends on a successful working through of it[.]

This theme is woven throughout Significant Moments, but perhaps most starkly in the following section that fuses the labors to create the Freud Archives with the essential themes of Hesse’s Magister Ludi:

After the Second World War, at a time when there was little interest in Sigmund
Freud’s life history, a small group of psychoanalysts—Hartmann, Kris, Lewin, Nunberg, and myself—became alarmed by the fact that a large number of letters by Freud had been lost as a result of the ravages brought about by the war. It was feared that if no measures were taken, the surviving documentation of Freud’s life would be . . .
Janet Malcolm, In the Freud Archives quoting K.R. Eissler.
. . . dispersed throughout the world . . .
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust.
. . . and most of it would be lost to future research. The need for a Sigmund Freud Archives was thus recognized.
Janet Malcolm, In the Freud Archives quoting K.R. Eissler.
What all this means to us at the present time is this:
Hermann Hesse, Magister Ludi: The Glass Bead Game.
Dr. Kurt Eissler, . . .
Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, Series Z: An Archival Fantasy.
. . . in due course, . . .
Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage.
. . . gathered about him a body of . . .
The Diary of Richard Wagner 1865-1882 – The Brown Book quoting
Parzival: First Prose Sketch.

. . . colleagues . . .
Hermann Hesse, Magister Ludi: The Glass Bead Game.
. . . to serve the . . .
The Diary of Richard Wagner 1865-1882 – The Brown Book quoting
Parzival: First Prose Sketch.

. . . newly founded . . .
Lord Alfred Tennyson, Idylls of the King: The Last Tournament.
. . . Freud Archives.
J. Moussaieff Masson, Final Analysis: The Making and Unmaking of a
Psychoanalyst.

Starting from the very bottom, . . .
Hermann Hesse, Magister Ludi: The Glass Bead Game.
. . . and with a strength of spirit and character which is rare among human beings . . .
Lucy Beckett, Richard Wagner: Parsifal quoting Erich Heller.
. . . the much maligned Dr. Eissler . . .
Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, Series Z: An Archival Fantasy.
. . . sought and secured . . .
Jerome K. Jerome, The Cost of Kindness.
. . . historical materials . . .
Hermann Hesse, Magister Ludi: The Glass Bead Game.
. . . that were destined eventually for the Freud Archives under the custodianship of the Library of Congress . . .
J. Moussaieff Masson, Final Analysis: The Making and Unmaking of a
Psychoanalyst.

. . . where they would remain . . .
Thomas Hardy, Far From the Madding Crowd.
. . . inaccessible to every other living man.
H.G. Wells, The New Accelerator.

Hanna Segal talks about the need to keep the flame alive.  That was the essence of Dr. Eissler’s work on the Freud Archives.  That’s the essence of Hesse’s poem Worship, reproduced below.

The poem is an effort to express a knowledge imperfectly felt, to articulate relationships not quite seen, to make or discover some pattern in the world. It is a conflict with disorder, not a message from one person to another.
Richard Wilbur, The Genie in the Bottle.
Permit me to clarify the situation by a . . .
Hermann Hesse, Magister Ludi: The Glass Bead Game.
. . . poem drawn from . . .
The Home of the Eddic Lays.
. . . an old book, left to me by my ancestor . . .
Richard Wagner, Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg.
Here!—here!
Richard Wagner, Parsifal.
I will show you something . . .
T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land.
. . . not coerced into being by rational principle, but . . .
Richard Wilbur, The Genie in the Bottle.
. . . exhaled . . .
T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land.
. . . from the imagination, a condition of spontaneous psychic unity.
Richard Wilbur, The Genie in the Bottle.
Worship
In the beginning was the rule of sacred kings
Who hallowed field, grain, plow, who handed down
The law of sacrifices, set the bounds
To mortal men forever hungering
For the Invisible Ones’ just ordinance
That holds the sun and moon in perfect balance
And whose forms in their eternal radiance
Feel no suffering, nor know death’s ambiance.
Long ago the sons of the gods, the sacred line,
Passed, and mankind remained alone,
Embroiled in pleasure and pain, cut off from being,
Condemned to change unhallowed, unconfined.
But intimations of the true life never died,
And it is for us, in this time of harm
To keep, in metaphor and symbol and in psalm,
Reminders of that former sacred reverence.

Perhaps some day the darkness will be banned,
Perhaps some day the times will turn about,
The sun will once more rule us as our god
And take the sacrifices from our hands.
Hermann Hesse, Magister Ludi: The Glass Bead Game.
The image we carry of a lost coherence, of a center that held, has authority greater than historical truth. Facts can refute but not remove it. It matches some profound psychological and moral need. It gives us poise, a dialectical counterweight with which to situate our own condition. This appears to be an almost organic, recursive process.
George Steiner, In Bluebeard’s Castle.

email Message to Susan Scheftel, Ph.D. — Psychoanalyst at Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research

Dr. Scheftel graduated with a degree in English Literature from New York University.

Dr. Scheftel:

I am a layman with an interest in psychoanalysis. I read with great interest your paper “The Children’s Books of William Steig.” May I interest you to take a look at an unusual book I wrote — a kind of novel in verse — about an immigrant Iranian family living in Manhattan? One of the characters is a student at NYU. Another character is a psychoanalyst.

Regards,

Gary Freedman

http://psychoanalysis.columbia.edu/people/faculty/susan-scheftel-phd

A Relationship between IQ and Psychoanalysis

freud

Scott Barry Kaufman reports research findings that show that high IQ is associated with “a drive for conscious exploration of inner mental experience.”

Are highly intelligent people specially suited to psychodynamic and psychoanalytic therapies?

http://scottbarrykaufman.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Kaufman-2011.pdf

What do research studies show about the needs of creative individuals? Kaufman writes that behavioral and brain studies suggest that creative people are characterized by a lack of inhibition (Eysenck, 1995; Martindale, 1999), and case studies repeatedly show that creative people describe the creative process as effortless and lacking in deliberation (Csikzentmihalyi, 1996). Coercing a patient to talk about certain issues – forcing the patient to deliberate on certain aspects of his mental contents – is antithetical to the way the brains of creative people work.

Kaufman is Scientific Director of The Imagination Institute in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

Free Association

BrahmsTheme

The seemingly unrelated or discursive ideas I present in therapy are actually an expression of a grand unconscious design. As Freud pointed out, free associations in a psychoanalytic narrative are not random; rather, they are unconsciously determined – they follow an unconsciously-determined line of thinking that is in fact cohesive. My therapists don’t appreciate this fact; they see my seemingly unrelated references in the session to be random and that my apparent discursiveness as a detour or an evasion from the work of therapy. It’s as if the therapist views my seeming discursiveness as an expression of resistance only. It’s as if the therapist interprets my apparent digressions in the following way: “Gary cannot face what he needs to face. He needs to switch the focus.” An appreciation of the importance of free association is paramount in therapy.

Is it possible that my seeming digressions are simply a way of continuing my own agenda in the face of the therapist’s intrusions? That’s what Freud suggests in the following quote: “The importance of free association is that the patients spoke for themselves, rather than repeating the ideas of the analyst; they work through their own material, rather than parroting another’s suggestions.” My apparent digressions allow me to continue my agenda in the face of the therapist’s intrusion – by taking a modified route, like a composer repeating a melody in another key with a radically different harmonization.

I am reminded of the final movement of the Brahms Fourth Symphony. Brahms repeats the same eight-note melody 30 times in succession. There are no digressions — he never deviates from repeating the same 8-note theme time and again. An analytic narrative is like that. The patient repeats the same idea or closely-related ideas again and again in variation.

Dictatorship of the Mediocre

Workplace mobbing is quite literally a Dictatorship of the Mediocre.

Mobbing is a “ganging up” by co-workers, subordinates or superiors, to force someone out of the workplace through rumor, innuendo, intimidation, humiliation, discrediting, and isolation.

Adams and Field believe that mobbing is typically found in work environments that have poorly organized production or working methods and incapable or inattentive management and that mobbing victims are usually “exceptional individuals who demonstrated intelligence, competence, creativity, integrity, accomplishment and dedication”.

The Dictatorship of the Mediocre mob the exceptional.

https://dailstrug.wordpress.com/2017/10/16/the-peoples-commissariat-of-mediocrity/

Me and Waterboarding

I love the movie Rendition. It’s about a guy the government thinks has terrorist connections and knows something about a terrorist plot. The government interrogates and tortures him convinced he’s concealing information.

https://cafemovie.me/movie/rendition-lDGg21DO/watch#NnPQ29w2dbnqdwVG

That’s the relationship between me and the therapists I see. They complain I don’t talk about my feelings. They seem convinced I have feelings to talk about, that in some way I am concealing these feelings from them or refusing to make an effort to talk about my feelings. They badger me about this week after week. I feel like I’m being waterboarded.

I am not concealing my feelings. I can’t make an effort to talk about my feelings. Dr. Shengold talks about patients with massive splitting and isolative defenses, patients who were victims of abuse. These defenses emerge to wall off overpowering feelings that would otherwise overwhelm the individual.

In vertical splitting there is a split between the observing ego (the self that describes) and the experiencing ego (the ego that feels). In therapy, the describing self is present but the experiencing ego — the ego that feels the pain is split off.

With the isolation defense feelings are split off from thinking. In therapy the patient can talk about his thoughts about things, but can’t describe the feelings.

Based on my experience it’s not simply that I don’t talk about my feelings, the important thing is that I don’t feel my feelings. It’s like a person on morphine: it’s not simply that he doesn’t talk about his pain, he doesn’t feel his pain.

So the waterboarding continues!

Is Creativity a Neutral Factor In Psychotherapy?

I get a lot of grief from therapists because, in their view, I don’t act like other patients in psychotherapy. One of my past psychiatrists said to me: “You don’t seem clear on what you are supposed to be doing here.”  That psychiatrist also criticized me because of the content of my dreams — as if I have any control over my dreams.

Reading through some material on the personalities of creative people I wonder: will the creative person approach therapy like a conventional patient? Aren’t some aspects of the creative personality adverse to compliance with and unquestioning acceptance of the therapist’s interventions?

Based on the literature, can’t we say that the creative therapy patient will have the following characteristics relating to independence of thought?

1. The creative person will be more complex psychodynamically and have greater personal scope.

Compare:

1a. The conventional patient will tend to be non-complex.

2. Creative persons will be independent in their judgments and not readily acquiesce in the therapist’s interpretations.

Compare:

2a. The conventional patient will be compliant and readily acquiese in the therapist’s interpretations.

3. Creative persons will be more assertive and dominant in their opinions.

Compare:

3a. Conventional patients will not assert their viewpoints in a dominant way with their therapist, but will tend to be compliant.

4. Creative persons will reject suppression in the control of impulses.

Compare:

4a. The conventional patient will suppress his impulses when asked to do so.

5. Creative persons express only part truths.

Compare:

5a. Conventional patients will express simple, comprehensive observations.

6. In addition to seeing things as the therapist does, the creative person will see things as the therapist does not.

Compare:

6a. The conventional patient will tend to see things the way the therapist sees things.

7. Creative persons are independent in their cognitive faculties, which they value very much.

Compare:

7a. Conventional patients will not show independence of cognitive faculties nor will they place a great value on their cognitive faculties.

8. Creative persons are more capable of holding many ideas, and comparing more ideas.  (My current therapist has complained about all the issues I raise in my sessions.)

Compare:

8a. Conventional patients will tend to struggle with a few, simple ideas at a time.

9. Creative persons see a more complex universe.

Compare:

9a. Conventional patients will tend to see a simplistic universe.

10. Creative persons are more conscious of unconscious motives and fantasy life.

Compare:

10a. Conventional patients will not be conscious of unconscious motives and fantasies.  Conventional patients will not be concerned with the content of their unconscious wishes, conflicts or prohibitions.  Conventional patients will not be concerned with the role of unconscious motives in their daily lives.

11. Creative persons place a high value on freedom.

Compare:

11a. Conventional patients will place a high value on compliance with and acceptance by the therapist.

12.  Parnes believed the creative person will extend effort in idea production.

Compare:

12a.  The conventional patient will not extend effort in idea production.

https://dailstrug.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/silvano-arietti-the-magic-synthesis.pdf

Phillip Weissman believed that the ego functions of conventional persons engaged in work differ from the ego functions of creative persons involved in creative productions. “In ordinary work, the synthetic function works without the dissociative function, and produces established useful solutions. In creative work, the synthetic function is re-enforced by the dissociative function. Their combined functions hold in abeyance the established solutions, thus permitting new, original ones to be synthesized.” Akhtar, S., ed. Good Feelings: Psychoanalytic Reflections on Positive Emotions and Attitudes.

Weisman also believed the creative individual has the ability to diverge the energy originally invested in persons into creative work.  (Is therapy a creative work for the creative individual?)

Is it possible that psychotherapy for the creative person is a creative activity in which the creative patient’s synthetic function is re-enforced with the dissociative function; whereas, for the conventional therapy patient therapy is more like “work” in which the dissociative function does not play a role? Might there be identifiable (and possibly significant) differences in the entire approach to therapy by creative versus conventional patients?

The Ambassador’s Law Firm and the Soviet Union

Stalin

I recently wrote the following about my problems in groups that place a high premium on group cohesion:

“I believe there is a fundamental and direct relation between the therapist’s psychological response to me at the last session and my difficulties in some groups. In cohesive, homogeneous groups which place a premium on strong bonds and self-sameness, the individualist who places a premium on autonomy will be perceived as non-self and arouse anxiety in group members: that anxiety will trigger splitting and projective defenses in group members who will force warded off mental contents (namely, libidinal and aggressive impulses) into the non-self outsider by means of projective identification. A good analogy is the body’s immune response in which non-self tissue or foreign microorganisms will trigger attack by the immune system to preserve the integrity of self.

Significantly, Kernberg points out that in the cohesive, homogeneous group the group-as-whole is perceived by group members as the soothing “breast mother.” “The psychology of the group, then, reflects three sets of shared illusions: that the group is composed of individuals who are all equal [homogeneous], thus denying sexual differences and castration anxiety; (2) the group is self-engendered—that is, as a powerful mother of itself; and (3) that the group itself can repair all narcissistic lesions because it becomes an idealized “breast mother.”” Kernberg, O.F. Ideology, Conflict, and Leadership in Groups and Organizations.”

Today, in the library I was reading the current issue of The New Yorker, an article titled “Russia’s House of Shadows” by Joshua Yaffa.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/10/16/russias-house-of-shadows

My attention was drawn to the following observations:

“The question of what to do after the work of revolution was done was human sacrifice, “one of history’s oldest locomotives,” Slezkine writes. The “more intense the expectation, the more implacable the enemies; the more implacable the enemies, the greater the need for internal cohesion; the greater the need for internal cohesion, the more urgent the search for scapegoats.” Soon, in Stalin’s Soviet Union, the purges began. There would be no such thing as an accident or an error—any deviation from virtue and promised achievements was the result of deliberate sabotage. [The author is talking about paranoia.] This is the logic of black magic, of spirits and witches, and of the witch hunt. It was only natural that the hunt’s victims be found among those who set the original prophecy in motion.”

Reading this article was the inspiration for Igor Segal and the Commissariat of Mediocrity.  Earl’s goal was a homogeneous group; Lenin’s goal was a “classless society.”

https://dailstrug.wordpress.com/2017/10/16/the-peoples-commissariat-of-mediocrity/