Malcolm Lassman and Earl Segal were quite taken in with my brother-in-law. Malcolm liked my brother-in-law’s horse racing interests and Earl, well, who knows what interests Earl.
I thought of parallels between my brother-in-law’s personality and Malcolm and Earl’s apparent behavior in relation to me.
I have a few thoughts about my brother-in-law’s processing of impulses and his superego functioning.
1. When I was twelve years old, in the summer of 1966, I used to prepare dinner every evening for my family. My mother worked and I seemed to have had an altruistic motive to help out. One afternoon I prepared a chicken dish, which my sister bragged about on the telephone with her then boyfriend. My brother-in-law’s comment was “Why does your father let your brother cook?” Apparently, he thought my cooking was girly behavior which should have been staunched by my father. In this anecdote, my brother-in-law had transformed an altruistic motive into inappropriate impulse gratification.
2. About a year later, in about April or May 1967, when I was 13 years old, my brother-in-law stopped by our house early on a Saturday evening. My father wasn’t home. My sister and mother were stranded on Route 309 in Pennsylvania; my mother’s car had broken down. I was watching television and drinking grape soda or grape juice. My brother-in-law said to me: “Is that wine you’re drinking?” In this anecdote he had transformed an innocuous act (drinking soda or grape juice) into inappropriate impulse gratification.
3. In the late 1970s, when he was about 30 years old, my brother-in-law told my mother about his tentative plans to open a fraudulent Medicare Clinic. He and a friend had the idea of billing Medicare for services never provided. My mother was horrified. She said, “Isn’t that illegal? You could go to jail for that!” My brother-in-law said, “what’s the difference if nobody finds out.” My brother-in-law’s superego development was such that he viewed acts as amoral — only becaming “bad” if a “parental figure” saw the act and defined it as bad, subjecting the actor to punishment. If nobody finds out, the act is neither good nor bad in itself. I suspect that issue of superego development is related to my brother-in-law’s transforming my altruistic motives or innocuous acts into inappropriate impulse gratification.
Perhaps Malcolm and Earl think that their behavior is not wrong as long as nobody finds out. Who knows?