Several weeks ago I had the following dream. In thinking about the dream I associated to material I had read about the Holocaust the previous day.
I am on my way to work. It is about 8:30 in the morning. I decide to stop off at a nearby synagogue to say morning prayers. I worry about being late for work. I am the only person in the synagogue and I feel exposed. I see the rabbi and I feel he is judging me. I am uncomfortable. I take a seat and the synagogue fills up. I begin to feel better that I am no longer alone. I am seated next to an attractive girl in her twenties. I think: “She’s way too young for me.” The cantor sings in Hebrew. There was a feeling of unease throughout the dream.
I have additional thoughts about the dream. At a recent psychotherapy session my therapist said to me: “People who idealize also tend to devalue other people.” Also I have formed the impression that my therapist is a group oriented person. Group theorists point out that in paranoid groups, each group member idealizes the group as a whole and vents its aggression on enemies of the group (outsiders) or scapegoats within the group. Is it possible that my therapist’s observation, “People who idealize also tend to devalue other people” was a projection of her own groupishness, or group valency? When I criticized my previous therapists the therapist in turn pathologized my purely rational observations. Did the therapist in fact see her colleagues as a psychologically protected or idealized group? Was she scapegoating me? Does the dream indicate the unconsious feeling that my therapist threatens me or scapegoats me?
It is interesting to observe that the idealization/devaluation dichotomy underlies Nazism. The Nazis idealized Germans as the master race and devalued and scapegoated Jews (and created enemies abroad). Did the dream express my unconscious association of myself with the Jewish victims of the Holocaust and my therapist with the Nazis?
The dream seems anaclitic or object seeking. I seem attracted to the young girl in the dream (a reference to my therapist — a young female?). I seem distressed by loneliness and comforted by the thought of other people joining me in the synagogue. But is that appearance of anaclitic concerns deceptive? Is it possible the dream conceals narcissistic concerns, namely, my feeling of distress of being alone with my (scapegoating or non-mirroring) therapist in her office and my desperate longing for mirror image objects (fellow Jews) to defend against a feeling of engulfment by a bad mother representative?
Let us add context to these ideas.
In the dream “The Dream of the Blackjack Tournament” the seemingly anaclitic concern of losing Craig as a friend conceals unconscious distress centering on narcissistic loss (a bowel movement). Once again, I associated to the Nazis in the events of the previous day (my having read a book about Adolf Eichman, architect of the Holocaust).
“The Dream of the Blue Oxford” is manifestly narcissistic. The manifest dream expresses my extravagant need for narcissistic mirroring, idealization and twinship. 1/ I am enthralled by the thought that Craig and I wear the same size shirt — suggestive of his being my twin image. I associate to the Warsaw ghetto, destroyed in the Holocaust.
1/ Kohut and Wolf (1978) argue that early deficits in mirroring, idealizing, and twinship lead to disorders of the self. For instance, failure to have one’s selfobject needs met adequately may activate either hunger or avoidance of those needs in adulthood. A child with absent, neglectful, or inconsistent caregivers who do not adequately mirror the child may foster the development of an adult who is mirror hungry and seeks out others to facilitate a feeling of being special.
Selfobject deficits have been linked to a wide range of psychological problems,
including pathological narcissism, difficulty regulating emotions, and deficits in interpersonal functioning. The degree and type of the resulting psychopathology, however, depends on the developmental stage in which these primary needs were arrested. At the extreme, the arrest occurs very early and precedes the awareness of selfobjects. At the opposite extreme, neurotic organizations involve individuals struggling to live up to their ideals. Moderate deficits lead to a failure to internalize realistic ambition or mature ego ideals, leading to fears of fragmentation and heightened vulnerability to criticism, failure, negative emotions, pessimistic thoughts, and loneliness.