In a previous post I made the following observations:

A fight-flight basic assumptions group is a type of paranoid group formation in which the group splits good from bad and proceeds to idealize the group-as-a-whole (“the good”) and projects the bad onto a scapegoat in the group or an external enemy.  A law firm is well suited to fight-flight phenomena since the rational work task of representing clients against the opposing party can assume a paranoid fight-flight posture of projecting the  primitive proto-mental states surrounding the good object onto the client and projecting primitive proto-mental states surrounding the bad object onto the opposing party.  In Akin Gump’s Eastern Airlines litigation perhaps the client Eastern was the “good breast” and the unions were the “bad breast.”

Allow me to refine the last sentence:

In Akin Gump’s Eastern Airlines litigation perhaps the client Eastern was the “good breast” and the unions were the “bad mouth.”

The good breast is benign and beneficent.  It freely gives milk.  The client Eastern was all good and blameless.  It sends a check each month (milk) in payment for legal services.  Eastern’s unions were the bad mouth — greedy, parasitical, demanding, and biting (making defamatory and damaging statements about Eastern) (the Code-a-Phones).

I am reminded of an anecdote of purported harassment that was directed at me at Akin Gump that occurred in early spring 1990 involving a baby food jar.  I saw the baby food jar as symbolic, relating to me.  The epithet “baby” is stereotypically anti-Semitic.

The baby food jar could also be a reference to me as “the bad mouth.” That is to say, greedy, parasitical, demanding (“he demanded to work in total isolation”) and biting. The latter symbolism would relate to me as a “bad object” (the bad mouth) — a scapegoat in a fight-flight basic assumptions group.

30. On a Friday in early spring 1990 (possibly March 30, 1990), Ms. Constance Brown advised me that since there was little work to be done on Eastern, she had arranged that I meet with the administrator of litigation support, Ms. Chris Robertson on Monday morning (possibly April 2, 1990) and that Chris would provide me with work. On Monday morning, shortly after 9:00 AM, I reported to litigation support, which was housed on the terrace level of the building, and met with Chris for about 15 to 20 minutes. Chris provided instruction on a particular task that I was to do for MCA. This was my first contact with Chris Robertson in the relation of employee to supervisor; up until this time I had worked predominantly for Ms. Constance Brown on Eastern. This was also the first time I was to work in the terrace level office. At the conclusion of my conversation with Chris, she led me from her office to a work station where I was to perform the assigned task. Upon sitting at the work station, Chris said to me, “You can sit here.” This was at approximately 9:30 AM. After sitting down at the desk I looked into the trash basket next to the desk. The trash basket was empty except for a baby food jar. The baby food jar had been wiped clean before being placed in the trash basket, consistent with the jar having been brought from home by someone for the express purpose of placing it in the trash basket with the intent to harass.
(Note that the epithet “baby” is stereotypically anti-Semitic.)

Note that the incident occurred at a time of paranoid anxiety at the firm:

On March 30, 1990 the following article, titled “Eastern’s Creditors Threaten to Move For Liquidation,” appeared in The Wall Street Journal.

“Eastern Airlines’ unsecured creditors have threatened to call for a bankruptcy-court liquidation of the beleaguered carrier if Eastern’s parent, Texas Air Corp., doesn’t take a bigger role in current efforts to reorganize it.

But Texas Air officials, in turn, have told the creditors’ committee that it can’t make the kind of wide-ranging financial assurance apparently being sought, according to people familiar with the case.

The sudden standoff is an outgrowth of the disclosure earlier this week by Eastern President Phil Bakes that the airline couldn’t meet the terms of a settlement reached only a month earlier. That agreement called for repaying unsecured creditors about 50 cents on the dollar. . . .

According to people close to the latest discussions, Eastern’s creditors are weighing other possible responses, including backing the appointment of a trustee by the court. A trustee would replace Eastern’s managers and run the airline’s day-to-day operations. The idea has been proposed before and was strongly backed by Eastern’s unions and bitterly opposed by Eastern and Texas Air management. Until now, creditors have also resisted the notion. Creditors are further understood to be pressing their advisors to search for a possible buyer of Eastern, a move they haven’t previously pushed. . . .”

Advertisements