Shame! A System Psychodynamic Perspective

Author: Michelle May

Abstract: The purpose of this chapter is to contribute to existing knowledge about shame, through using the systems psychodynamic perspective. Firstly I explore the definition of shame, by building on ideas that illustrate the unconscious dynamics of shame in the context of culture. Then follows an overview of systems psychodynamics, which has its theoretical underpinnings in psycho-analytic thinking based on the work of Freud, Klein’s object relations theory, Bion’s work on groups, Jaques’s and Menzies Lyth’s work on organizations as social defences and envious attacks, and open systems theory. A case study is presented to illustrate how systems psychodynamics can contribute to our understanding of shame dynamics operating at the intersection of culture and race (In this chapter race is used in accordance with the South African construction of groups based on their skin color using apartheid and post-apartheid values), and how this enhanced understanding can impact the work of practitioners.

zz Shame! A System Psychodynamic

Klein’s understanding of the relationship between the (m)other and the infant has been applied to the relationship between the individual. and groups (see Fig. 2.1), as well as between groups in the organization (Powell Pruitt and Barber 2004). These unconscious pairings between the self and its objects in the inner world affect daily functioning in three ways:

• Unconscious projection of the inner world onto external reality;
• Unconscious choice of relationships that repeat the inner dramas (transference
and countertransference); and
• Through projective identification (Stadter 2011)

Klein’s ideas were later applied to adult behavior in organizations by Jaques, Menzies Lyth, Miller and Rice. Jaques and Menzies Lyth built on the work of Klein, in particular the ideas of primitive anxieties and the defense mechanism mobilized in the paranoid-schizoid and depressive position, to develop social systems as a defense against persecutory and depressive anxiety (Long 2004). The underlying assumption is that anxiety is specific to, and rises from, the nature of the work and from one’s interpersonal relationships linked to one’s position in the organisation (Jaques 1990; Menzies Lyth 1960, 1990). Individuals in organisations defend against the anxiety-provoking content and the difficulties of collaborating to accomplish a common task, by organising and using the structure of the organisation in the service of defence-related and not work-related functioning (Amado 1995; Jaques 1990; Menzies Lyth 1990). Thus, the organization is being used by its stakeholders as an anxiety-holding system, and to prevent people from experiencing the anxieties generated by their work and interpersonal relationships (Long 2004). Thus, social systems as a defence against anxiety explicate the dynamics of a particular organisation by exploring the parallel between individual defences and the social defences used by individuals and groups in a social system. Of critical importance is that the use of projective and introjective processes alleviates persecutory (the other experienced as bad) and depressive (the other experienced as both good and bad) anxiety experienced within care-giving or dependency-oriented organisations (Jaques 1990; Menzies Lyth 1990; Powell Pruitt and Barber 2004; Young 1995). In other words, members of social systems employ social defences, separate from conscious behaviour, to deal with work and interpersonal relationships that may be psychologically demanding (Mnguni 2012; Powell Pruitt and Barber 2004; Young 1995).

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I Knew I had the Personality of a Litigator — or a Nobel Prize Winner in Medicine

Litigation word cloud concept

Dismissive Avoidants “were most likely to be workaholics and most inclined to allow work to interfere with social life. Some said they worked too hard to have time for socializing, others that they preferred to work alone. Not surprisingly, their incomes were as high as the secures, but their satisfaction was as low as [the preoccupied.]” Because of their ability to focus on work and act independently, dismissives can be phenomenal explorers and individual contributors. In fields where performance is not based on group efforts, and a lack of concern for others’ feelings can actually be beneficial, the dismissive can be a star player—for example, in some types of litigation, or some scientific fields.

https://jebkinnison.com/bad-boyfriends-the-book/type-dismissive-avoidant/

email Exchange with Dan Lukasik, Esq.

Dan Lukasik, Esq. is a lawyer who is actively involved in promoting mental health care for lawyers.

http://www.lawyerswithdepression.com/have-dan-speak-at-your-event/
______________________________________________________________________

Thank you, Gary. Very busy, but will do my best to read it over the next few weeks.

On Tue, Mar 12, 2019 at 7:35 PM Gary Freedman <garfreed@aim.com> wrote:

Mr. Lukasik:

I am a licensed attorney and worked as a paralegal at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld many years ago. I have been in psychotherapy. Might I interest you to take a look at some summaries I wrote of my psychotherapy sessions? The text is in the attachment. It’s a very unusual document and it discusses some of my experiences at Akin Gump. You may share the document with others.

Regards,

Gary Freedman
Washington, DC

https://dailstrug.wordpress.com/2018/09/11/psychotherapy-reflections-2/

The Dream of the Family Gathering

Upon retiring on the evening of March 8, 2019 I had the following dream:

I am at the house where I grew up. There is a large family gathering at which my parents are present. Dr. P— is there. I am happy to see him, but I don’t want to look too excited. My family treats him like a beloved son. My family ignores me; they appear to shun me. All their attention is focused on Dr. P—. Dr. P— ignores me also; he won’t make eye contact. He seems happy and profoundly content.

I have strong feelings of sadness and distress about Dr. P— ignoring me and my family ignoring me. I feel that Dr. P— has usurped me. I feel like an outsider in my own family. The family leads him into the kitchen, while I gaze on.

Thoughts:

My view of Dr. P— as my usurper in this dream seems connected to my role as an intruder in the earlier Dream of the Intruding Doctor, someone who did not belong in Missouri: the outsider, alien, or interloper. In The Dream of the Family Gathering, Dr. P— is a “welcome outsider” to my parents while to me he is an intruder, which parallels the biographical incident from age three, discussed earlier, when I came down with scarlet fever. My pediatrician (Dr. Bloom) was a “welcome outsider” to my parents and to me, perhaps, an intruder.

The dream suggests that I see Dr. P— as the successful son my parents never had. I suppose I am deeply envious of him; I feel he has the accomplishments and traits that rightly belong to me, but that in fact belong to him.

The figure of Dr. P— in this dream reminds me of the so-called “happy mortal” described by Goethe in his novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther: “We often feel that we lack something, and seem to see that very quality in someone else, promptly attributing all our own qualities to him too, and a kind of ideal contentment as well. And so the happy mortal is a model of complete perfection—which we have ourselves created.”

I see superego issues. Dr. P— is my ego ideal. The distress I feel in the dream is the disparity between my ego and my own ego ideal.

I think about a biographical incident from Sunday May 18, 1969. I was 15 years old. My sister and brother-in-law got married the previous Sunday, on May 11. On the night of their wedding, they flew to Miami Beach, Florida for their honeymoon. A week later, on the 18th, when they returned, my parents and I picked them up at the airport. They returned to my parents’ house. My uncle Louie and his wife Reggie were there. My mother happened to have a bottle of champagne. We drank a glass of champagne. My sister and brother-in-law had purchased a gift for me, a men’s jewelry box. In retrospect, the jewelry box reminds me of the theme of the three caskets from Shakespeare’s play, The Merchant of Venice. In that play the fair and wise Portia is bound at her father’s bidding to take as her husband only that one of her suitors who chooses the right casket from among the three before him. The three caskets are of gold, silver and lead: the right casket is the one that contains her portrait. Two suitors have already departed unsuccessful: they have chosen gold and silver. Bassanio, the third decides in favor of lead; thereby he wins the bride, whose affection was already his before the trial of fortune. The suitor’s choice in The Merchant of Venice parallels my dream in that my parents appear to have chosen Dr. P— over me. It’s as if my parents were thinking, “Now that we have Dr. P—, we don’t need Gary anymore.” In some sense I was the loser in a competition, which suggests an Oedipal theme.

As I see it, The Dream of the Family Gathering relates to introjective concerns, not anaclitic concerns. People say about me, “He’s very lonely and he wants a friend. That’s why he is obsessed with his former primary care doctor.” No. Those are interpersonal, anaclitic concerns.

In this dream I am failing to live up to my parents’ (and my own) expectations: Patients with introjective disorders are plagued by feelings of guilt, self-criticism, inferiority, and worthlessness. They tend to be more perfectionistic, duty-bound, and competitive individuals, who often feel like they have to compensate for failing to live up to their own and the perceived expectations of others. The basic wish is to be acknowledged, respected, and admired. That’s exactly what my parents are doing in the dream; they are giving Dr. P— acknowledgement, respect and admiration — all the things being denied me in the dream.

Individuals with a self-critical personality style may be more vulnerable to depressive states in response to disruptions in self-definition and personal achievement. These individuals may experience “introjective” depressive states around feelings of failure and guilt centered on self-worth.

A biographical incident comes to mind. When I was 32 years old I worked as a paralegal at large law firm. A new employee named Craig Dye began employment. I had formed a strong dislike of him before I met him, though we later became friends. Another employee had said to me weeks before, “They’re hiring a new guy. He’s really good. They might just decide they don’t need you anymore.” When I met Craig I thought, “So you’re the guy who’s going to take my job.’” During the following months my working relationship with Craig was one of rivalry. Craig and I had many similar characteristics. When there was competition for a particular assignment, or if I had to submit work in competition with that of peers, I confidently assumed I would win. Craig and I were both intelligent and gifted, and that helped us to live up even to overweening pretensions. Although generally good-natured and even “humble” in manner, we both had many arrogant traits. Compounding the hostility between Craig and me was the fact that our supervisor was an attractive young woman. That is, the relationship between Craig and me vis-a-vis a female authority carried an implicit plea, not unlike the plea of the three suitors to Portia in The Merchant of Venice: “Choose one of us. Is it to be they or I?”

MON _176-188 the-dream-of-the-intruding-doctor

Striking Parallels: Dr. P and CWD

merchant

The Dream of the Family Gathering

I am at the house where I grew up. There is a large family gathering, including my parents. Dr. P— is there. I am happy to see him, but I don’t want to look too excited. My family treats him like a beloved son. My family ignores me; they appear to shun me. All their attention is focused on Dr. P—. Dr. P— ignores me also; he won’t make eye contact. He seems happy and profoundly content.

I have strong feelings of sadness and distress about Dr. P— ignoring me and my family ignoring me. I feel that Dr. P— has usurped me. I feel like an outsider in my own family. The family leads him into the kitchen, while I gaze on.

Thoughts:

I think about a biographical incident from Sunday May 18, 1969. I was 15 years old. My sister and brother-in-law got married the previous Sunday, on May 11. On the night of their wedding, they flew to Miami Beach, Florida for their honeymoon. A week later, on the 18th, when they returned, my parents and I picked them up at the airport. They returned to my parents’ house. My uncle Louie and his wife Reggie were there. My mother happened to have a bottle of champagne. We drank a glass of champagne. My sister and brother-in-law had purchased a gift for me, a men’s jewelry box. In retrospect, the jewelry box reminds me of the theme of the three caskets in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. In that play the fair and wise Portia is bound at her father;’s bidding to take as her husband only that one of her suitors who chooses the right casket from among the three before him. The three caskets are of gold, silver and lead: the right casket is the one that contains her portrait. Two suitors have already departed unsuccessful: they have chosen gold and silver. Bassanio, the third decides in favor of lead; thereby he wins the bride, whose affection was already his before the trial of fortune. The suitor’s choice in The Merchant of Venice parallels my dream in that my parents appear to have chosen Dr. P— over me. In some sense I was the loser in a competition, which suggests an Oedipal theme.

The dream suggests that I see Dr. P— as the son my parents never had. I suppose I am deeply envious of him; I feel he has the accomplishments and traits that rightly belong to me, but that in fact belong to him.   I see superego issues. Dr. P— is my ego ideal. The distress I feel in the dream is the disparity between my ego and my own ego ideal.

My view of Dr. P— as my usurper in this dream seems connected to my role as an intruder in the earlier Dream of the Intruding Doctor, someone who did not belong in Missouri: the outsider, alien, or interloper.  The figure of Dr. P— in this dream reminds me of the so-called “happy  mortal” described by Goethe in his novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther: “We often feel that we lack something, and seem to see that very quality in someone else, promptly attributing all our own qualities to him too, and a kind of ideal contentment as well. And so the happy mortal is a model of complete perfection—which we have ourselves created.”

Parallels with CWD and The Dream of Milton’s Successor

The view of Dr. P as usurper in the above dream parallels a real life incident involving CWD in 1986. In 1986 I was afraid that my supervisor, Sheryl Ferguson would choose the estimable CWD over me. In the above dream, my anxiety centered on my parents choosing Dr. P over me. In effect, my parents seemed to have thought in the dream: “Now that we have Dr. P, we don’t need Gary anymore!”

“I was 32 years old. I worked as a paralegal at the Hogan & Hartson law firm. That day a new employee started. His name was Craig Dye. We shared office space in the second floor library of the firm, a tiny annex. Espe Rebollar introduced him to me. I had formed a strong dislike of him before I met him. Another employee, Cindy Rodda had said to me weeks before, ‘They’re hiring a new guy. He’s really good. They might just decide they don’t need you anymore.’ When I met Craig I thought, ‘So you’re the guy who’s going to take my job.'”

What is psychoanalytically striking — and suggests the importance of the jewelry box association from 1969 — is that these themes of choice and competition with CWD all emerged in my dream, The Dream of Milton’s Successor (1995): a dream about The Merchant of Venice!!!

Significantly, in my dream associations about The Dream of the Four Miltons I wrote in 1995:

“During the summer of 1987 my working relationship with Craig Dye was one of rivalry. Our mutual antagonism is suggested by the fact that Craig and I shared the following characteristics, attributed by Shengold to his patient, in equal measure. “In later life, when there was competition for a particular post, or if he had to submit work in contention with that of peers, he confidently assumed he would win; true to Freud’s prediction, he often did. He was both intelligent and gifted, and that helped him live up even to overweening pretensions. Although generally good-natured and even “humble” in manner, he had many arrogant traits” (p. 170). A paraphrase of a line from a novel by Goethe (Elective Affinities) aptly describes my workplace relationship with Craig: “Once they have been brought together, God help them!”

Compounding the hostility between Craig and me was the fact that our supervisor was a somewhat attractive young woman. That is, the relationship between Craig and me vis-a-vis a female authority carried an implicit plea, not unlike the plea of parties before an appeals court: “Choose one of us. Is it to be he or I?””

The Dream of the Four Miltons:

http://dailstrug.blogspot.com/2009/10/dream-of-miltons-successor.html

Dream of the Family Gathering

On the evening of March 8, 2019 I posted the following on my Facebook page.

caribbean

Later, after I retired for the night I had the following dream:

I am at the house where I grew up. There is a large family gathering, including my parents. Dr. Redacted is there. I am so happy to see him, but I don’t want to look too excited. My family treats him like a beloved son. My family ignores me; they appear to shun me. All their attention is focused on Dr. Redacted. Dr. Redacted ignores me also; he won’t make eye contact. He seems happy.

I have strong feelings of sadness and distress about Dr. Redacted ignoring me and my family ignoring me. I feel that Dr. Redacted has usurped me. The family leads him into the kitchen. (Where else?)

Thoughts:

The dream seems to say that I see Dr. Redacted as the son my parents never had. I suppose I am deeply envious of him; I feel he has the accomplishments and traits that rightly belong to me, but that in fact belong to him.

I see superego issues. Dr. Redacted is my ego ideal. The distress I feel is the disparity between my ego and my own ego ideal.

What I find interesting about this dream is that it relates to introjective concerns, not anaclitic concerns. People say, “He’s very lonely and he wants a friend.” No. Those are anaclitic concerns.

In this dream I am failing to live up to my parents’ expectations: “Patients with introjective disorders are plagued by feelings of guilt, self-criticism, inferiority, and worthlessness. They tend to be more perfectionistic, duty-bound, and competitive individuals, who often feel like they have to compensate for failing to live up to the perceived expectations of others.”

“The basic wish is to be acknowledged, respected, and admired.” That’s exactly what my parents are doing in the dream; they are giving him acknowledgement, respect and admiration — all the things being denied me in the dream.

“Individuals with a self-critical personality style may be more vulnerable to depressive states in response to disruptions in self-definition and personal achievement. These individuals may experience “introjective” depressive states around feelings of failure and guilt centered on self-worth. In “Levels of Object Representation in Anaclitic and Introjective Depression,” Sidney Blatt reviews Fenichel and Bibring’s theories of development and extrapolates that introjective depression is considered more developmentally advanced than anaclitic depression. This conclusion is supported by both Bibring and Fenichel’s discussions that one source of depression (anaclitic) is primarily oral in nature, originating from unmet needs from an omnipotent caretaker; while another source is related to the (more developmentally advanced) formation of the superego and involves the more developmentally advanced phenomena of guilt and loss of self-esteem during the oedipal stage.”

I think about a concrete incident from Sunday May 18, 1969. I was 15 years old.   My sister and brother-in-law got married the previous Sunday, on May 11. That night they flew down to Miami Beach, Florida for their honeymoon. On the 18th, when they returned, my parents and I picked them up at the airport. They came back to my parents’ house. My uncle Louie and his wife Reggie were there. My mother happened to have a bottle of champagne. We drank a glass of champagne.

There is a latent issue of corruption and moral narcissism that I blocked out until this moment.

I just recall in this moment something else I posted on my Facebook page the evening of March 8, before this dream:

sex lohengrin

and also the following post:

moral lohengrin

Earlier in the day on March 8, 2019 I had the following email exchange with officials in the District Government about Dr. Redacted:

Good afternoon Mr. Freedman:
Thank you again for bringing this to our attention.  Our legal team (headed by [redacted–General Counsel]) and the performance integrity division are reviewing the material you forwarded and dropped off at our office.   I will be your DHCF point of contact until our review is complete I will provide you with a response as soon as possible.  Please let me know if you have any additional questions or concerns.
Sincerely,
[redacted]
Chief of Staff, DHCF
(202) 478-5809

From: Gary Freedman <garfreed@aim.com>
Sent: Friday, March 8, 2019 1:09:19 PM
To:
Cc:
Subject: Fwd: letter to wayne turnage — dchcf

Ms. [General Counsel]:
 
The attachment is the complete 20-page criminal civil rights complaint styled U.S. v. [redacted], Molly Evans, and Jonay Foster Holkins I filed with the FBI on March 18, 2018 that alleges the subornation of perjury by Unity Health.  I provided your office the first two pages of said complaint in a document submission I hand-delivered to your office yesterday, March 7 at 2:30 PM. In the following email Director Turnage acknowledges the letter delivery.  Feel free to ask for any further clarification or documentation.
 
Gary Freedman
Washington, DC
 
cc: [chief of staff]

—–Original Message—–
From: Gary Freedman <garfreed@aim.com>

Sent: Fri, Mar 8, 2019 8:57 am
Subject: Fwd: letter to wayne turnage — dchcf

Mr. Turnage:

I hand-delivered the letter to [the General Counsel] on March 7, 2019 at 2:30 PM.  By the way, the DCHCF receptionist is a very nice and helpful person.  I want to put in a good word for her.

Gary Freedman

—–Original Message—–

From: Turnage, Wayne (DHCF) <>
To: Gary Freedman <garfreed@aim.com>

Sent: Thu, Mar 7, 2019 11:16 pm
Subject: Fw: letter to wayne turnage — dchcf

Gary:
Thanks for bringing this matter to my attention.  By copy of this email I am notifying my Chief of Staff, [redacted] of this issue so that she can investigate.
WT
Sent from my BlackBerry – the most secure mobile device