Thoughts about Akin Gump’s Hiring Practices

Some companies seek new employees who will fit into the organization’s existing culture.  These companies strive to preserve the organization’s homogeneity.

http://www.businessinsider.com/managers-hire-people-who-remind-them-of-themselves-2014-5

Some companies try to foster diversity and seek out heterogeneous candidates.  CEOs of such companies see diversity as an advantage. Paul Block of the U.S. sweetener manufacturer Merisant pointed out, “People with different lifestyles and different backgrounds challenge each other more. Diversity creates dissent, and you need that. Without it, you’re not going to get any deep inquiry or breakthroughs.” Or, as Jonathan Broomberg of the South African insurer Discovery Health put it, diversity is “a source of creativity and innovation.”

https://hbr.org/2013/09/great-leaders-who-make-the-mix-work

I thought that Akin Gump placed a premium on homogeneity.  As one paralegal said to me, “It’s my impression that people are hired more for what they can contribute socially than what they can contribute professionally.”   The fact that that paralegal sensed she was being shunned for being different (older, more mature) suggests that she didn’t fit the homogeneous mold of the ideal Akin Gump paralegal.

Is homogeneity in an organization associated with a culture of paranoia?  Perhaps.  That’s my suspicion.  Certainly, group theorists point out that loss of individuality of group members (through what is called dedifferentiation or homogenization)  is an outcome of the (paranoid) regressive forces of a group.

Perhaps, also relevant here is the process known as groupthink. Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints by actively suppressing dissenting viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences.

When an organization places a premium on homogeneity, might it not also be promoting groupthink as an outcome?

People say: “You were a lawyer working as a paralegal in a law firm.  No wonder you had problems!”  Was that, in fact, the problem?  Or was the problem that I was working in an organization that valued homogeneity as opposed to diversity?  Or less flatteringly, was the problem that I was working in an organization that promoted paranoia?

email Message to Prof. Peter L. Rudnytsky

Professor Rudnytsky:

I was the identified patient in a dysfunctional family. I have written an unusual work of fiction, The Emerald Archive. Perhaps you might be interested to take a look at the text in the attachment to this email. I wonder whether you would be able to discern encoded in the text my psychological struggles as an identified patient.

Regards,

Gary Freedman

Prof. Rudynytsky responds:

Dear Mr. Freedman,
Thanks for your email but I’m afraid I can’t take the time to do justice to your work.

Best regards,

Peter Rudnytsky

Was my Thinking too Relational for an Orthodox Freudian?

A former treating psychiatrist, Stanley R. Palombo, M.D. once said to me, “It bothers you that people think you are a homosexual.”

What I think Dr. Palombo was saying is that there were ideas floating around in the average expectable environment, and because of an intrapsychic issue in me I was hypersensitive to those ideas.

That’s not my thinking.  My formulation would be “I have personality pathology.  My personality pathology causes certain people (narcissistically disturbed people or people under the influence of disturbed group process) to react to me in disturbed ways.  I am bothered by that disturbed reaction.”

Dr. Palombo consistently failed to see that personality pathology in an individual is played out in an interpersonal field.   This assumption, that intrapsychic functioning plays out in an interpersonal field, is the basis of the A.K. Rice Conference Group, which is based on Bion’s ideas.  (Bion’s ideas grew out of Melanie Klein’s work.)

My ideas about this matter grows out of relational psychoanalysis, which grows out of the work of Melanie Klein.  I naturally gravitate to Kleinian thinking.  Whatever that means.

https://www.lib.utexas.edu/etd/d/2008/mascialinog81965/mascialinog81965.pdf

What I Always Suspected: Psychiatrists Cannot Distinguish Delusional People from the Sane

The Rosenhan experiment was a famous experiment done in order to determine the validity of psychiatric diagnosis, conducted by psychologist David Rosenhan, a Stanford University professor, and published by the journal Science in 1973 under the title “On being sane in insane places”. The study is considered an important and influential criticism of psychiatric diagnosis.  It was while listening to one of R. D. Laing’s lectures that Rosenhan wondered if there was a way in which the reliability of psychiatric diagnoses could be tested experimentally.

Rosenhan’s study was done in two parts. The first part involved the use of healthy associates or “pseudopatients” (three women and five men, including Rosenhan himself) who briefly feigned auditory hallucinations in an attempt to gain admission to 12 different psychiatric hospitals in five different states in various locations in the United States. All were admitted and diagnosed with psychiatric disorders. After admission, the pseudopatients acted normally and told staff that they felt fine and had no longer experienced any additional hallucinations. All were forced to admit to having a mental illness and agree to take antipsychotic drugs as a condition of their release. The average time that the patients spent in the hospital was 19 days. All but one were diagnosed with schizophrenia “in remission” before their release.

The second part of his study involved an offended hospital administration challenging Rosenhan to send pseudopatients to its facility, whom its staff would then detect. Rosenhan agreed and in the following weeks out of 193 new patients the staff identified 41 as potential pseudopatients, with 19 of these receiving suspicion from at least one psychiatrist and one other staff member. In fact, Rosenhan had sent no pseudopatients to the hospital.

The study concluded “it is clear that we cannot distinguish the sane from the insane in psychiatric hospitals” and also illustrated the dangers of dehumanization and labeling in psychiatric institutions. It suggested that the use of community mental health facilities which concentrated on specific problems and behaviors rather than psychiatric labels might be a solution and recommended education to make psychiatric workers more aware of the social psychology of their facilities.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosenhan_experiment

Fun with Ronnie, Adele and Edgar

When we last encountered Ronnie, Adele and Edgar, they were ensconced in their felicitous world of disturbed object relations.

Edgar started dating Adele when Ronnie was 11 years old.  Edgar’s relations with Ronnie were hostile and aversive from the outset.  Edgar relentlessly devalued Ronnie in his sister’s eyes.

It is well to consider the fact that Edgar was an only child.  He never learned to deal with competition with siblings — that is, competition for his mother’s love.  In his possessive relationship with Adele — (Adele once remarked how Edgar always seemed uncomfortable when she was with her friends) — Edgar had to compete (at least, in his imagination) with a rival in relation to a love object.  In a sense, Ronnie and Adele constituted an Oedipal universe for Edgar.  Perhaps, Edgar perceived Ronnie as a derivative of the Oedipal Father.

Be that as it may.

The psychodynamics of anti-Semitism has been interpreted  as reflecting Oedipal dynamics.

Thus:

The Jew represents the Oedipal father image, in which the psychic function of the Jew is to enable both a distancing of the Oedipal conflict as well as a lingering in the narcissistic dimension. Here, the psychodynamic goal is to “fill a deep narcissistic fissure within the subject and between the subject and the outside world” (Pohl 2006, 62). It is an avoidance of the real Oedipal conflict, resulting in a pregenital regression and an escape into the narcissistic universe as the site of the mother archetype, and the yearning for intrauterine perfection and the “prenatal elevated-elevating condition” (Grunberger 1982, 44). The antisemite stands between two worlds: that of illusion and Narcissus, and that of reality and Oedipus. For the antisemite, the Jew appears here as “the mighty and as the castrated father”: The Jews are utilized for the abreaction of an unresolved and therefore “eternal” ambivalence towards the father. In accordance with this inner schism, he splits the introjected primal father figure into two halves: the aggressivity towards the evil, punishing father is directed towards the imago of the Jews to undergo an abreaction there, while positive feelings remain towards the beloved father figure, meaning God, the Fatherland, the ideal (Grunberger 1962, 268).

This also makes clear on an individual psychological level what Ostow (1996, 80, 85) described within Christianity’s apocalyptic imagery, in which can be seen a mythical division of the world juxtaposing “elements of danger or destruction with elements of achievement or victory,” combining “death fantasies” with “rebirth fantasies,” always in connection to messianic elements and the hope of an end to the current, negatively seen era. According to Ostow, the antisemitic worldview is therefore marked by a distinctly identifiable moralization. Sartre described this worldview as a dualism with an extreme polarization that largely excludes any kind of reality check, which itself relates to Arendt’s idea emphasizing the totality of antisemitism and the concomitant hermetic self-containment of this worldview. 

http://jsantisemitism.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Politics-of-Antisemitism.pdf

So we see that from both a Freudian (Oedipal) and Kleinian (pre-Oedipal) perspective, my interpersonal dynamics can be compared to the dynamics of anti-Semitism.  That’s a powerful idea !!  I wonder what a group theorist would say about these matters, and what light this discussion sheds on my difficulties in groups.  Also, what is the relationship between my own Oedipal issues and the fact that I have these difficulties in groups time and again.

https://dailstrug.wordpress.com/2017/01/21/its-not-sugar-its-sweet-and-low-can-you-tell-the-difference/

https://dailstrug.wordpress.com/2017/01/20/anti-semitism-as-a-form-of-coffee-sweetener/

Raben

It is a strange adventure — the adventure of being very tall — and in its essence it comes to have a singular and instinctive humanity. In an extraordinary way, a tall man comes to know things about the world as other people do not, cannot, know them. And the reason for this is mainly in the purely fortuitous quality of a tall man’s difference from average humanity. In no respect, save in respect to his unusual height, is a tall man different from other men. In no way is he less his brother’s brother, or his father’s son. In fact — astonishing as that fact may seem — the overwhelming probability is that a tall man never thinks of being tall, never realizes indeed, that he is tall until other people remind him of his height.

–Thomas Wolfe, Gulliver: The Story of a Tall Man.

email Message to John D. Gartner, Ph.D. — psychologist

Dr. Gartner:

I thought you might have an academic interest in the following matter. Here is a list of my psychiatric symptoms. Do I constitute a new and distinct psychiatric diagnosis?

1. I was the scapegoat in a dysfunctional, disturbed family that featured emotional and physical abuse.

2. I tend to be the scapegoat in groups. I become the target of warded off aggressive and libidinal impulses of the group.

3. I have a high level of subjective psychological distress. I ruminate obsessively on my past.

4. I have low hedonic capacity. I do not experience pleasure.

5. I have a lifelong history of social withdrawal and isolation. I show schizoid detachment, consistent with have had a cold, emotionally unresponsive mother.

6. I dismiss the value of relationships, consistent with avoidant disorder. Avoidant disorder is associated with having had a rejecting mother.

7. I show a tendency toward intense, primitive idealization. According to Salman Akhtar (Jefferson University) omnipotence, denial, and idealization are the three constituents of manic defense. Winnicott noted that the use of manic defense is typical of individuals who dread sadness and are unable to mourn.

8. I live in a fantasy world. I seem to prefer fantasy to reality.

9. Psychological testing disclosed serious, if not severe, character pathology. The test results confirmed the experience of scapegoating and abuse (i.e., elevations on the Family Discord and Social Alienation Scale for Schizophrenia on the MMPI).
Notwithstanding my character pathology, clinical examination shows a competent, mature, emotionally regulated presentation, consistent with “disguised presentation.” Disguised presentation is found typically in trauma survivors.

10. I have a lifelong history of dysthymia (characterological depression) and anxiety.

11. I struggle with intense feelings of alienation. I feel as if I am like no one else in the world. This is the flip side of my idealization. I idealize those few people who mirror me.

12. I have high executive functioning. I had a perfect score on the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test
.
13. I am an intellectually gifted person with an overall IQ in the top 2%. My verbal IQ is in the top 1%.

What does all this add up to? Where do you find people with this cluster of psychological problems? Any thoughts?

Gary Freedman

email Message to Gary G. Gintner, Expert in Psychiatric Nomenclature

Dr. Gintner, an associate professor and program leader of the counseling program at Louisiana State University, is a past president of the American Mental Health Counselors Association. He chairs its DSM-5 Task Force.

Dr. Gintner:

Here is a list of my psychiatric symptoms. Do I constitute a new and distinct psychiatric diagnosis?

1. I was the scapegoat in a dysfunctional, disturbed family that featured emotional and physical abuse.

2. I tend to be the scapegoat in groups. I become the target of warded off aggressive and libidinal impulses of the group.

3. I have a high level of subjective psychological distress. I ruminate obsessively on my past.

4. I have low hedonic capacity. I do not experience pleasure.

5. I have a lifelong history of social withdrawal and isolation. I show schizoid detachment, consistent with have had a cold, emotionally unresponsive mother.

6. I dismiss the value of relationships, consistent with avoidant disorder. Avoidant disorder is associated with having had a rejecting mother.

7. I show a tendency toward intense, primitive idealization. According to Salman Akhtar (Jefferson University) omnipotence, denial, and idealization are the three constituents of manic defense. Winnicott noted that the use of manic defense is typical of individuals who dread sadness and are unable to mourn.

8. I live in a fantasy world. I seem to prefer fantasy to reality.

9. Psychological testing disclosed serious, if not severe, character pathology. The test results confirmed the experience of scapegoating and abuse (i.e., elevations on the Family Discord and Social Alienation Scale for Schizophrenia on the MMPI).

Notwithstanding my character pathology, clinical examination shows a competent, mature, emotionally regulated presentation, consistent with “disguised presentation.” Disguised presentation is found typically in trauma survivors.

10. I have a lifelong history of dysthymia (characterological depression) and anxiety.

11. I struggle with intense feelings of alienation. I feel as if I am like no one else in the world. This is the flip side of my idealization. I idealize those few people who mirror me.

12. I have high executive functioning. I had a perfect score on the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test.

13. I am an intellectually gifted person with an overall IQ in the top 2%. My verbal IQ is in the top 1%.

What does all this add up to? Where do you find people with this cluster of psychological problems? Any thoughts?

Gary Freedman
Washington, DC