Projective Identification in Groups

You can see how scapegoating is carried out in groups through subtle psychological means including “looks, gestures, postures and words.”

intimidation groups projective identiication

This group demonstrated that projective identification is a central mechanism in intimidation among abused early adolescents. Initially described by Klein (1946), projective identification is a process in which the subject is rid of threatening unconscious feeling states which are “deposited” in the recipient in a powerfully controlling way.

This fantasy is supported by behavior intended to pressure or intimidate the recipient into feeling, thinking or acting consistent with the projected content. When the recipient responds by identifying with the projected content and shows anxiety, the subject is affirmed that the content is indeed threatening. In this group feelings of helplessness, vulnerability, and weakness were extremely threatening and were “deposited” in others via projective identification. Looks, gestures, postures and words pressured the recipient(s) into identifying with the content.

The projectors feel a bond with each other, since they all unconsciously imagine they have rid themselves of an unwanted and unacceptable part of themselves.  There is often a sense of virtuousness among those serving as projectors.  In contrast, the recipient is viewed — and unconsciously experiences himself — as a container of the expelled, unacceptable feelings. . . . Pressure is exerted on the recipient to behave and experience himself only in a manner that is congruent with the shared projective fantasy.

The recipient’s history of physical abuse made experiencing projected helplessness and vulnerability extremely uncomfortable, although quite familiar. The recipient’s discomfort validated the threat of the disowned content. The demonstration of sufficient power to coerce others simultaneously offset the subject’s feelings of weakness with grandiosity.

In projection the subject feels an intrapsychic estrangement from the projected content. In projective identification, the subject feels an unconscious connection with the projected content. Where the recipient is very similar in psychic structure to the subject, or can be influenced to act as if structurally similar, the subject is effectively relieved of the initial inner threat and simultaneously the response of the recipient affords the subject a sense of power and control.

Additional supporting defenses, such as omnipotence, disavowal and devaluation of the subject, may be present, based upon the subject’s intrapsychic need and supported by the conscious or unconscious feelings and actions of the recipient. Where boundaries between self and other are uncertain, clear splitting may be evident. However, omnipotence and devaluation of the other can be manifest where splitting is not a primary defense mechanism for the subject.

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Workplace Mobbing and Dysfunctional Families

Some experts believe that certain qualities dispose an employee to workplace mobbing, or ganging up behavior by coworkers:

“Those targeted are often people who threaten the organizational stasis; and, the most common characteristics identified as reasons for being targeted are refusing to be subservient (58%), superior competence and skill (56%), positive attitude and being liked (49%), and honesty (46%) (Namie & Namie).”

I find the the quality “threat to organizational stasis” interesting because it parallels something I reported to my therapist about my family structure.

I described the six-year period in my family before I was born in terms of a three-person system of two parents and an idealized child. I described a central triangle characterized by idealization: a family configuration comprising mother, father and idealized daughter that might plausibly be viewed by family members as a “paradise.”

When I was born I disturbed the family stasis — namely, the stable idealized triangle that prevailed for the six-year period before I was born.

Workplace Mobbing

A_Story_to_Tell_Bullying_and_Mobbing_in_the_Workpl

Bullying and mobbing are secretive, targeted, and widespread forms of abuse in the workplace (European Foundation, 2002). This behavior is designed to ostracize, isolate, undermine, and eliminate the person(s) being targeted. For reasons as yet unknown, this behavior appears to occur more frequently in the social service, health care, and educational sectors. Targets, often the most creative members of organizations, experience emotional and financial costs. Due to the loss of talented employees, a decrease in productivity, and staff demoralization, the costs to the organization are high. Multiple factors that create vulnerability are explored, as are potential points of intervention. Leaders, feeling helpless to intervene, may reinforce the culture of abuse. This phenomenon is a complex one that can only be addressed through systemic response and change in organizational culture. A framework for multi-level analysis and remediation is presented.

This is Exactly What Dr. Terman is Talking About: The Fragile Self-Esteem in the Context of a Paranoid Structure

Assault on Self-Esteem 

Here’s a telling anecdote: an incident from a few weeks before Edwin and Adele got married. In April 1969 Edwin was scheduled to stop over Adele’s family home one evening. Ronnie, Edwin and Adele’s father planned to go out to rent tuxedos for the wedding. Remember Ronnie? He was Adele’s younger, mentally-disturbed brother. Edwin was a little late in arriving. Adele’s father pounced on Edwin. Edwin kept his cool but suffered a scarring narcissistic injury, suggestive of his hypersensitivity — his fragile ego. A few days later Adele said to Ronnie: “Dad is such a jerk. Edwin says that dad is a total jerk. Don’t you think dad is a jerk?” Ronnie was bemused.

Yes, Edwin had suffered a narcissistic injury and he employed name-calling to restore his self-esteem. This was just a few weeks before Adele’s and Edwin’s wedding — a wedding that Adele’s parents sacrificed to provide. But more. Adele’s father gave a $1000 wedding gift to Adele and Edwin. Edwin was fully aware of Adele’s father’s generosity, but his need to restore his self-esteem shattered any sense of gratitude that any bridegroom would feel. Note Edwin’s alienating behavior. Like any cult-leader Edwin demanded uncompromising loyalty from Adele — to the point where Adele condemned her own father to retain Edwin’s approval.

https://dailstrug.wordpress.com/2013/10/28/the-further-adventures-of-adele-and-edwin-and-some-theoretical-thoughts/

Dr. Terman’s Thoughts about Fragile Self-Esteem, Shame and Paranoia

Theories of Group Psychology, Paranoia, and Rage

David M. Terman (Contributor Webpage)

This chapter situates the fundamentalist mindset in a group psychological context. A review of the psychoanalytic theory of groups shows some conflation between the psychology of the individual and that of the group. Several trends in research are evident. The group’s history, values, and goals are central to the group’s concerns, and threats to these elements — experienced by the group as assaults on its self-esteem — are increasingly cited as the source of violence.

The history of the theory of paranoia shows the same direction: there is more recognition of the problems of fragile self-esteem, shame, and humiliation in the genesis of the paranoid structure. Intrinsic to the structure is dualistic thinking and the Manichaean view of the world. Work on violence in groups shows analogous psychological organization: great investment in the ideology of the group that contains its goals, values, and sense of group self-esteem. An injury to those goals and values produces a paranoid organization and an analogy to rage in the individual, and subsequent violence.

Paranoid people try to make me a container for their own shame.  At Akin Gump a paranoid fight-flight basic assumptions group attempted to force its shame into me.

“Projective identification is a term introduced by Melanie Klein to describe the process whereby in a close relationship, as between mother and child, lovers, or therapist and patient, parts of the self may in unconscious fantasy be thought of as being forced into the other person.”

email Message from Professor Stanley Rabinowitz at Amherst College

Dear Mr. Freedman,

I am unable to open the attachment, which may be just as well because much as this project interests me, I am totally swamped with things—teaching, publishing my own book, retiring as of January 1 and dealing with that on a variety of levels. The timing is just not right. By the way, have you read the wonderful novel in verse (based on Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin and written entirely in Onegin stanzas), called Golden Gate? If not, it should be high on your list.

All best wishes on this adventure!

Prof. Stanley Rabinowitz

From: Gary Freedman [mailto:garfreed@aim.com]
Sent: Thursday, December 06, 2018 2:59 PM
To: Stanley Rabinowitz
Subject: pasternak

Professor Rabinowitz:

May I interest you to take a look at an unusual book I have written — a kind of novel in verse — about an immigrant Jewish-Iranian family living in Manhattan? In some sense the book is a parody of Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago. Richard Pevear had some kind words about the book. You may know that Mr. Pevear is a Russian-language translator (he translated Dr. Zhivago) and a former literature professor at Columbia University.

The text is at the attachment above.

https://dailstrug.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/the-emerald-archive-decembe-4-2018.pdf

Gary Freedman
Washington, DC

—–Original Message—–
From: Richard Pevear
To: Gary Freedman
Sent: Sat, Dec 30, 2017 2:32 pm
Subject: Re: parody of Dr. Zhivago

Dear Mr Freedman,

I assume you meant “rendering” and not “rending”?! Or maybe it’s both? In any case, I’ve looked through a number of the sections of your novel in verse. They’re very well written, very witty, fascinating in what they tell and what they imply. I must confess I’ve read almost none of the writers you paraphrase/ satirize, so I can’t fully appreciate that side of them, but I like very much the tone and the playfulness of your writing. Thank you for sending them/it.

With best wishes,

Richard Pevear

Sometimes it pays to tilt at windmills!

I am flabbergasted.  I just got an email reply from a high level District of Columbia official, Wayne Turnage!

https://dhcf.dc.gov/node/324462

Whoa!! Did not expect that! Thank you, Mr. Turnage!
_____________________________________________

Gary,

Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I will speak with the Interim Director at DBH about this today and get back to you this week.

WT

Sent from my BlackBerry – the most secure mobile device
From: garfreed@aim.com
Sent: December 6, 2018 3:42 PM
To: wayne.turnage@dc.gov
Subject: Fwd: dbh failure to provide legally-mandated services

CAUTION: This email originated from outside of the DC Government. Do not click on links or open attachments unless you recognize the sender and know that the content is safe. If you believe that this email is suspicious, please forward to phishing@dc.gov for additional analysis by OCTO Security Operations Center (SOC).

Mr. Turnage:

I forward an email I sent to Lewis Bossing, Esq., a senior staff attorney at the ­Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law and one of the lawyers representing the child plaintiffs in a lawsuit currently pending involving DBH’s failure to provide legally-mandated services.

Gary Freedman
Washington, DC

—–Original Message—–
From: Gary Freedman
To: lewisb
Sent: Thu, Dec 6, 2018 3:23 pm
Subject: dbh failure to provide legally-mandated services

Mr. Bossing:

I am a consumer of mental health services from the DC Department of Behavioral Health. I am an intellectually gifted consumer who requires intensive psychodynamic psychotherapy. DBH has failed to provide appropriate treatment for me or locate appropriate treatment outside DBH.

I receive inadequate psychotherapy at the Wendt Center. The therapy I receive is supportive psychotherapy, and not the psychodynamic therapy I require. I have contacted Nancy B. Black, M.D. at DBH’s Mental Health Services Division, 35 K Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002, telephone: (202) 442-4204. Dr. Black has not responded.

I believe that DBH is in violation of its legal mandate to provide appropriate mental health services to residents of the District who suffer from mental illness. In my case, those services would be intensive psychodynamic treatment.

I have summarized some of my therapy sessions. You can access those summaries at the pdf document in the attachment to this email.

Thank you.

Gary Freedman
Washington, DC

 

Tilting at Windmills

Dr. Black:

I forward an email I sent to Lewis Bossing, Esq., a senior staff attorney at the ­Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law and one of the lawyers representing the child plaintiffs in a lawsuit currently pending involving DBH’s failure to provide legally-mandated services.

Gary Freedman
Washington, DC

—–Original Message—–
From: Gary Freedman <garfreed@aim.com>
To: lewisb <lewisb@bazelon.org>
Sent: Thu, Dec 6, 2018 3:23 pm
Subject: dbh failure to provide legally-mandated services

Mr. Bossing:

I am a consumer of mental health services from the DC Department of Behavioral Health. I am an intellectually gifted consumer who requires intensive psychodynamic psychotherapy. DBH has failed to provide appropriate treatment for me or locate appropriate treatment outside DBH.

I receive inadequate psychotherapy at the xxxxx Center. The therapy I receive is supportive psychotherapy, and not the psychodynamic therapy I require. I have contacted Nancy B. Black, M.D. at DBH’s Mental Health Services Division, 35 K Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002, telephone: (202) 442-4204. Dr. Black has not responded.

I believe that DBH is in violation of its legal mandate to provide appropriate mental health services to residents of the District who suffer from mental illness. In my case, those services would be intensive psychodynamic treatment.

I have summarized some of my therapy sessions. You can access those summaries at the pdf document in the attachment to this email.

Thank you.

Gary Freedman
Washington, DC

The lawsuit against DBH

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/lawsuit-alleges-dc-has-failed-hundreds-of-emotionally-disturbed-children/2018/08/14/0f488352-9ff3-11e8-83d2-70203b8d7b44_story.html?utm_term=.90513b4898da

Earl: Don’t Look at Me, I’m in Real Estate!

reps

 

Think about the following situation.  A U.S. Congressman has unusual social skills.  He is likable, gregarious, and socially adroit.  He is a skilled people person.  Politically, however, he’s not a party man.  He votes his values and his conscience.  He frequently votes with the Republicans.  Critical votes come up where the party leadership tells him, “We need your vote” and he votes with the Republicans.  — My question:  How far will his friendly manner and social skills take him?  Seems to me he will have serious problems with his Democratic colleagues.

What does this have to do with me?  When I worked at Akin Gump, I think people like Earl thought: “If he was more outgoing and friendly he wouldn’t have problems.”  No.

It’s clear to me that sociability and autonomy are distinct issues.   A sociable person who is highly autonomous — that is, he doesn’t show group loyalty — will have serious problems with a group.

The irony is that Akin Gump was a lobbying law firm.  Didn’t they learn anything from working with politicians?

email Message to Prof. Roman Katsman

Prof. Katsman is an Israeli literature professor at Bar-Ilan University. He is the author of the paper: “Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago in the Eyes of Israeli Writers and Intellectuals.” He teaches at the Department of Literature of the Jewish People at Bar-Ilan University.

http://hebrew-literature.biu.ac.il/en/node/645/

Professor Katsman:

May I interest you to take a look at an unusual book I have written — a kind of novel in verse — about an immigrant Jewish-Iranian family living in Manhattan? In some sense the book is a parody of Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago. Richard Pevear had some kind words about the book. You may know that Mr. Pevear is a Russian-language translator (he translated Dr. Zhivago) and a former literature professor at Columbia University.

The text is at the link below:

https://dailstrug.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/the-emerald-archive-decembe-4-2018.pdf

Gary Freedman
Washington, DC

—–Original Message—–
From: Richard Pevear <rpevear@gmail.com>
To: Gary Freedman <garfreed@aim.com>
Sent: Sat, Dec 30, 2017 2:32 pm
Subject: Re: parody of Dr. Zhivago

Dear Mr Freedman,

I assume you meant “rendering” and not “rending”?! Or maybe it’s both? In any case, I’ve looked through a number of the sections of your novel in verse. They’re very well written, very witty, fascinating in what they tell and what they imply. I must confess I’ve read almost none of the writers you paraphrase/ satirize, so I can’t fully appreciate that side of them, but I like very much the tone and the playfulness of your writing. Thank you for sending them/it.

With best wishes,
Richard Pevear