Summary of Therapy Session — July 17, 2017


1. I stated to the therapist: “When I was a boy I once said to my mother, “I love my sister more than I love you.” The therapist responded that that was an expression of the “attachment dance.” In the therapist’s interpretation, perhaps I felt that I was not getting the love and attention I needed from my mother, so I attempted to provoke her on the theory that it’s better to get angry attention from mother than no attention at all.

I had a negative response to this interpretation. I felt constrained by her reference to the attachment dance and her assumption, based on this one anecdote, that I was attempting to provoke my mother. There seemed to be no context to the therapist’s interpretation. 1/ There was a “jump to conclusions” quality to the therapist’s interpretation.

I sometimes feel that the therapist has a limited number of tools (or concepts) in her toolbox and that she stretches her few concepts to situations that require more subtlety and depth — that is, a fuller range of tools to explain a particular issue. The therapist keeps coming back to the idea of the “attachment dance” as almost a knee-jerk reaction to any issue involving the relationship between me and my mother. She then seems to extrapolate her “attachment dance” model to explain my relationships in adulthood. This is entirely too simplistic and ignores that fact that many aspects of my adult relationships and not simply a concrete revival of early attachment issues with my mother but are, in fact, a reaction to internal objects. This would be especially true in an introjective patient for whom Oedipal issues (based on three-party relations involving child-mother-father) play a prominent role. When the therapist invokes the dyadic attachment dance she seems to necessarily confine her concerns to anaclitic issues that involve feelings of helplessness and weakness; fears of being abandoned, and strong wishes to be cared for, protected, and loved in which pre-oedipal, dyadic issues predominate. Dyadic anaclitic concerns are primarily oral in nature, originating from unmet needs from an omnipotent caretaker. Introjective concerns are related to the (more developmentally advanced) formation of the superego and involve the more developmentally advanced phenomena of guilt and loss of self-esteem during the oedipal stage.

The therapist’s invocation of the attachment dance seems to ignore the important, if not overriding, issue of introjective issues in my personality. The therapist’s concerns with the attachment dance may be a projection of the therapist’s own oral dependency needs.

1/ The therapist made an interesting comment as it pertains to her lack of interest in seeing things in context. At one point she said to me, “Instead of writing letters, could you raise issues with me in the session?” The therapist was projecting on to me her procedure of segmenting my reports and appraising issues one at a time. I, on the other hand, am interested in context. I write letters after the session is completed because this allows me to view the entire session in context.

The idea of a child provoking the mother to receive negative attention is addressed in classical psychoanalysis and has been termed “masochistic provocation.” Wilhelm Reich gave the classic explanation of “masochistic provocation.” “Genetically and historically, a deep disappointment in love lies behind the provocation. The masochist is especially fond of provoking those objects through whom he suffered a disappointment. Originally, these objects were intensely loved, and either an actual disappointment, was experienced or the love demanded by the child was not sufficiently satisfied. It is already possible to note that a strong need for love goes along with the real disappointment experienced by the masochistic character. This need precludes a real gratification and has a specific inner source . . . . [The masochistic character] cannot endure the loss of contact. When this happens he will seek to reestablish it his own inadequate way, i.e, by courting sympathy through misery. Many such characters are very susceptible to the feeling of being alone and deserted in the universe.” Reich, W. Character Analysis at 243 and 247 (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1945) (emphasis added).

We can see one fault in the therapist’s limited tool box. In invoking the issue of the attachment dance the therapist has ignored another tool, namely masochism. What about the role of masochism in my relations with my mother, and the role of masochism in my adult relationships?  As the saying goes, “Just because you have a hammer doesn’t mean every problem is a nail.”  Not all relationship issues can be reduced to the attachment dance.  I have a concern that the therapist’s toolbox is limited to her own projective needs — perhaps she emphasizes the attachment dance precisely because of her own dyadic anaclitic issues.

Another issue: Leonard Shengold has discussed the issue of masochistic provocation as it relates to the experience of child abuse.  Shengold, L.  Soul Murder: The Effects of Childhood Abuse and Deprivation at 71 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989) (discussing a patient’s provocative behavior toward the analyst that had its roots in maternal overstimulation).  Provocative behavior is not simply reducible to a child’s subjective feelings of lack of love from the mother.  Provocative behavior can be attributed to the child’s experience of aggression by parental figures.  This therapist, owing to her paranoid schizoid anxiety, would probably feel more comfortable viewing the patient as provoking the good mother (the active agency or bad object, i.e., the object struggling with aggressive impulses) rather than as the victim of aggression by the bad mother (the blameless passive agent or good object, i.e., the object of aggression).

Another issue: What about the child who reacts to subjective feelings of maternal rejection not with masochistic provocation, but by a retreat into fantasy, an outcome that may be prominent in the potentially creative child. I had earlier provided material to this therapist about the fantasy of the imaginary twin, a fantasy that is prominent in the creative. (Significantly, the fantasy of the imaginary twin involves Oedipal issues, which the therapist seems intent on ignoring.) “A common daydream which in spite of its frequency has received very little attention to-date is the fantasy of possessing a twin. It is a conscious fantasy, built up in the latency period as the result of disappointment by the parents — and retaliatory destructive impulses directed by the child in fantasy against the parents — in the oedipus situation, in the child’s search for a partner who will give him all the attention, love and companionship he desires and who will provide an escape from loneliness and solitude. The same emotional conditions are the basis of the family romance. In that well-known daydream the child in the latency period develops fantasies of having a better, kinder and worthier family than his own, which has so bitterly disappointed and disillusioned him. The parents have been unable to gratify the child’s instinctual wishes; in disappointment his love turns to hate; he now despises his family and, in revenge, turns against it. He has death-wishes against the former love-objects, and as a result feels alone and forsaken in the world. Burlingham, D.T. “The Fantasy of Having a Twin.” The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. Vol. 1 at 205 (1945) (emphasis added). A further element in many daydreams of having a twin is that of the imaginary twin being a complement to the daydreamer. The latter endows his twin with all the qualities and talents that he misses in himself and desires for himself. The twin thus represents his superego. Id. at 209.”

There are disappointed children who will provoke the mother. There are disappointed children, potentially creative children,  who will seek satisfaction in fantasy as described above.

Finally, I am concerned that the therapist’s interpretation about the issue of provocation is simply another in a line of the therapist’s paranoid interpretations. We can now add to the list of situations where the therapist appears to project her paranoid concerns onto my relations with third parties.

When I criticize past therapists the therapist says, “People who idealize some people devalue others.” 1/ Translation: “I feel that you devalue me.”

When I talk about a previous psychiatrist who bragged about his job interview she says, “People seem to feel they need to prove themselves around you.”
Translation: “I feel I need to prove myself around you.”

When I talk about my sister’s emotional vulnverability, the therapist mildly chastises me, “I get the feeling that you are judging your sister.” Translation: “I feel that you judge me.”

When I say that I loved my sister more than my mother, the therapist says, “You were trying to provoke your mother.” Translation: “I feel you are trying to provoke me with your letters.”

In fact, there are interpretations about my motive for writing letters that do not involve simply the dyadic patient-therapist relationship. What about the possibility that my letters relate to a three-party relationship or three-party fantasy? What if my aim is to memorialize my thoughts about my sessions to allow the therapist to consult with a third party expert about my concerns?  (This might be a projection of my superego value that demands that I go beyond ordinary professional standards to meet an inner standard of excellence.  1/)   Perhaps I am projecting onto the therapist what I would do in her situation in recognition of my limited knowledge: talk to outside experts.  That is an analyzable fantasy or projection in itself. As in the past, the therapist seems unable to conceptualize three-party situations — which raises serious concerns about her ability to analyze Oedipal issues. I explained this problem in depth in my previous letter about the session on June 19, 2017 relating to the therapist’s inability to conceptualize three-party relationships:

3. Perhaps there was an issue of jealousy between me and the therapist based on a three-way relationship. The psychiatry resident was supervised by Earle Baughman, M.D., a senior psychoanalyst at St. Elizabeths Hospital. I had provided Dr. Baughman a copy of my book Significant Moments. Dr. Baugheman is an expert in literature, particularly the writers of the American South, such as William Faulkner. The psychiatry resident often told me about glowing comments that Dr. Baughmann made about me, about how much I had going for me. The resident said: “Dr. Baughman often opens your book and reads passages from it to me to illustrate different psychological points.” How did this resident react to his supervisor using his patient’s book as a teaching tool? One wonders.

Perhaps these comments by Dr. Baughman to the psychiatry resident aroused jealousy in the resident and caused him to feel he needed to prove himself around me. (There is a possibility of anti-Semitism here, also. The resident mentioned a number of times that Dr. Baughman was Jewish and he knew that I was Jewish also. The resident was a non-Jew. Perhaps the resident at some level felt that the Jews were ganging up on him.) These observations point to how shallow and simplistic my therapist’s opinions are. She says she is interested in relationships but she has no feeling for the complexity and subtlety of relationships and seems unable to go beyond her own projections. Apparently, this therapist felt that it was she who needed to prove herself around me and proceeded to project those feelings onto my previous psychiatrist. That procedure was strikingly simplistic and projective. (Dr. Palombo mentioned that my personality showed signs that I was struggling with the effects of jealousy in my developmental environment. Peter Blos points out that a father’s rivalry with his young son can be an important issue in the dyadic father complex that predates the boy’s Oedipal struggle. Blos points out the link between this issue of pre-Oedipal paternal rivalry and the boy’s early fear of maternal engulfment. Fears of maternal engulfment appear to be important in my case. My current therapist failed to see how my possible struggle with paternal jealousy in a previous therapeutic relationship relates to my transference fears of engulfment by her — and in a grossly simplistic fashion points to the issue of my eliciting grandiosity from my previous therapist. Blos, P. “Freud and the Father Complex” at 431. The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, Vol. 42 (New Haven: Yale University Press: 1987). My sister reports that on one occasion she witnessed my father beating me when I was an infant — perhaps evidence of early paternal jealousy. One wonders how struggles about paternal jealousy molded my character and the possible link to my fears of maternal engulfment. See Blos, above.


2/  The psychologist Donald MacKinnon gathered personality data on architects. The data clustered into three personality types: (I) the artist (creative), (II) neurotic (conflicted; artiste manqu‚), and (III) the average (adapted). (Architects were chosen because they combine art with science, business, even psychology). His research found significant differences among the three groups.

Group I scored highest, in MacKinnon’s analysis, on aggression, autonomy (independence), psychological complexity and richness, and ego strength (will); their goal was found to be “some inner artistic standard of excellence.”

Group II scored intermediate on independence, close to (I) on richness, and highest on anxiety; their goal was “efficient execution.”

Group III scored highest on abasement, affiliation, and deference (socialization); their goal was to meet the standard of the group.

2.  The therapist asked me if I felt that any of my past therapists have been attuned to me.  I responded that I felt that Dr. Palombo was attuned to me.  I said that I felt that none of the residents I saw at the D.C. Department of Behavioral Health were attuned to me.

I thought that the therapist’s question was somewhat loaded.  It is true that I experience a lack of attunement with therapists based on narcissistic pathology.  I have an extravagant narcissistic need for twinship, idealization and mirroring.  But another major factor in the lack of attunement I have experienced is the nature of my past therapists.  They were all in training and their work was supportive rather than psychodynamic.   Three psychiatrists diagnosed me with bipolar disorder, which I don’t have.  Two psychiatrists diagnosed me with paranoid schizophrenia, which I don’t have.  Clearly, in addition to problems of attunement there was an issue of therapist incompetence.  In focusing on the issue of attunement alone, the present therapist is whitewashing objective inadequacies in these past therapists.  This supports once again the idea that this therapist identifies with the past therapists and is unable to acknowledge their shortcomings.  In some sense, this is scapegoating: “The patient has a problem with attunement with therapists whose professional work was not a factor in the patient’s lack of progress.”

It is important to look at why I experienced attunement with Dr. Palombo.  As a psychoanalyst he derived meaning from context.  None of my past therapists derived meaning from context.  Rather, they made ad hoc judgments based on material as it emerged.  These therapists segmented my reports, appraising fragments of the reports rather than looking for meaning in narrative flow.  These therapists had a tendency to “jump to conclusions” and had an inability to withhold judgment.  They seemed to say whatever popped into their heads.  Also, as a psychoanalyst, Dr. Palombo underwent a training analysis and was therefore able to recognize and filter out his own projective needs.  The present therapist seems to have powerful projective needs which she is unable to recognize.

One must also recognize the special needs of intellectually gifted patients and creative patients.

The need for autonomy develops early and remains an important part of the personality of gifted persons. Exceptionally intelligent persons want control over all aspects of their personal life. They are frequently described as headstrong and oppositional. From the earliest years, they had an intense desire to do things on their own and in their own way, and they balked at interruptions or offers of help.   These qualities will impact the therapeutic relationship.  Grobman, J. “Underachievement in Exceptionally Gifted Adolescents and Young Adults: A Psychiatrist’s View.” The Journal of Secondary Gifted Education, 17(4): 199-210 (2006).

We this quality of autonomy and a need for originality reflected in the work of creative writers. The novelist Hermann Hesse wrote in the novel Demian, “We can understand one another; but each of us is able to interpret himself to himself alone.” A creative individual with high intelligence will not readily acquiesce in the interpretations of a therapist, particularly a therapist who is not as intelligent as he.

It has been observed that if perception is reality, and if each of us perceives the world through our own unique set of senses, it follows logically that no two people’s realities will be exactly the same. Hence, each of us is essentially alone in his or her world. And yet we spend our entire lives trying to make connections and form relationships with other people. Indeed, making those connections and forming those relationships are among the most rewarding aspects of anyone’s life. But that doesn’t change the esstential fact that we are the sole inhabitants of our primary world — ourselves.

In focusing on my need for attunement, the therapist ignores the requirement that a therapist must respond to the patient’s needs with empathy. It is difficult for a therapist to respond empathically to a gifted and creative patient if he or she is not gifted or creative himself.

It is noteworthy that psychological tests indicate that I am an outlier in several important ways:

1. Executive Functioning: I had a perfect score on the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, a measure of executive functioning concept formation ability (see below).

2. Intelligence: I scored in the top 2% in overall intelligence and top 1% in verbal intelligence.

3. Psychoticism: The MMPI indicated a significant level of psychoticism.

4. Serious character pathology: The MMPI indicated that I have significant features of avoidant, narcissistic, and schizoid disorder as well as characterological depression. (How many residents have significant experience working with serious character pathology as opposed to disorders that can be treated medically?)

5. Temperament: On the Myers-Briggs Test I scored INTJ, the rarest of the 16 Myer-Briggs types, accounting for about 2% of the population. INTJs tend to be highly analytical, independent, and original with little or no regard for what other people think unless others can prove the value of their ideas.

These factors probably play an important role in my experience of lack of attunement. How many residents have experience treating patients with these unusual personality features?

Finally, it is important to consider that it is not adequate to say that I simply experience a lack of attunement. One must also look at the factors that cause lack of attunement in the form of (1) introjective pathology centering on guilt, identity definition and Oedipal issues as opposed to anaclitic pathology centering on interpersonal issues, and (2) personality factors associated with giftedness and creativity, such as:

Autonomy, scientific approach to thinking and learning, dissociative capacity, uncanny intuition, frequent and varied associations, high analytic ability, unusual idea production, curiosity, lack of inhibition in the expression of opinion, unconventional though processes, tendency to criticize constructively combined with an unwillingness to accept authoritarian pronouncements without overly critical self-examination.

3. Personality Factors Associated with Letter Writing

a.) Need to master experience (Superego Issue):

Some individuals have a special need to master their experiences. For example, in 1943 the psychoanalyst Bruno Bettelheim published the paper “Individual and Mass Behavior in Extreme Situations” about his experiences in the concentration camps. Bettelheim observed that writing objectively about his experiences became his intellectual defense against becoming overwhelmed by the perturbing feelings engendered by his experience. His desire to make people understand the camps received much impetus from his need to comprehend better what had happened to him while in the camps, so he could gain intellectual mastery over the experience. In the words of Erik Erikson, Bettelheim turned his experience “into a research project.”

In addition to the defensive aspect of Bettelheim’s writing we can perhaps see the operation of superego issues in the form of a scientific approach to thinking and learning rooted in psychological development beyond the dyadic mother-child relationship (attachment dance.) The “why and wherefore” of his experience was important to Bettelheim and he developed concepts to describe his experiences. (Note that high executive functioning is associated with high concept formation ability).

The child’s dyadic relationship [with the mother] slowly merges into the oedipal triadic relationship with the parents by the end of the fourth year, ushering in a severely conflictual situation for children of both sexes. If identification with the parent of the same sex has been proceeding well, this identification now serves as a stabilizing force, facilitating the temporary surrender of incestuous wishes and the modulation of hostile aggressive wishes towards the parent of the same sex. Sublimation of the sexual and aggressive drive derivatives can now proceed, with curiosity directed towards other areas. A significant landmark during latency is the gradual emergence of a scientific approach to learning and thinking. The why and wherefore of things become very important: concepts of the world and people begin to expand, and the development of reasoning steadily advances. Curiosity about sexuality gives way, under reasonably adequate psychological conditions, to curiosity about the wider aspects of the world, a sublimation of a portion of sexual as well as aggressive wishes that continues into adult life unless inhibitions arise because of psychological conflicts that were insufficiently resolved during the pre-oedipal and oedipal periods. Galenson, E. “Comments.” In: Ostow, M. Ultimate Intimacy: The Psychodynamics of Jewish Mysticism, pp. 144-150 at 150 (Madison, CT: International Universities Press, Inc.: 1995).

The present therapist seems mired in pre-Oedipal issues.

b.) Need to Withdraw Libido from Primary Objects and Re-invest in Imagination (Creativity and Dissociation):

The writer Andre Aciman has observed:

The ideal thing for a writer is when he has written all day—with minor interruptions thrown in—but needs to head out to a dinner party. He doesn’t want to lose his momentum, but he is also eager to meet friends at the dinner. Half-way through dinner, though, he can’t wait to get back. Yes, he loves his friends, and company is always fun, but how utterly fantastic to get back before midnight, change clothes, and pick up exactly where he left off at seven. If he’s lucky, he may stay up till two in the morning. Something someone said that evening caught his attention. He made a point of remembering it. He’ll use it in a sentence he had written earlier that day.

Aciman talks about the writer interacting with people then returning home and psychologically returning to his inner world to creatively transform his experiences.

Does this not parallel the potentially creative infant who interacts with his mother then returns to his inner world to hallucinate the mother’s breast independent of his needs gratifications? Compare the creative therapy patient who interacts with his therapist then returns home to his inner world to work through his therapy experience in letters which summarize and analyze his experience.

[Philip Weismann] believed that the future artist, as an infant, had the ability to hallucinate the mother’s breast independently of oral needs. According to him the unusual capacities of the artist ‘may be traced to the infancy and childhood of the artist wherein we find that he is drawn by the nature of his artistic endowment to preserve (or immortalize) his hallucinated response to the mother’s breast independent of his needs gratifications” . . . . One major concept of Weismann is the ‘dissociative function of the ego’ that he substitutes for Kris’s concept of regression in the service of the ego. With the aid of this dissociative function, the creative person ‘may partially decathect the external object (mother’s breast) and hypercathect his imaginative perception of it. He may then further elaborate and synthesize these self-created perceptions as anlagen or precursors of creative activity which must then await full maturation and development of his ego and his talent for true creative expression.’ In simple words, according to Weismann, the child who will become creative has the ability to diverge the energy originally invested in primitive personal objects and to invest it again in creative work.” Arieti, S. Creativity: The Magic Synthesis, at 25-26 (Basic Books: 1976), quoting Weismann, P. “Psychological Concomitants of Ego Functioning in Creativity” International Journal of Psychoanalysis 49: 464-469 (1968).

Intellectual productions are not simply reducible to a concrete revival of issues surrounding the child’s relationship with and need for love from the mother. There can be a dissociative basis to intellectual productions resulting from a withdrawal of emotional investment from objects.

c.) Possible Moral Dimension Associated with a Therapist’s Lack of Attunement

The therapist focuses on the patient’s feelings of narcissistic injury or distress associated with a therapist’s lack of attunement. Might there be a moral dimension to a patient’s sense of a lack of attunement?

I observe that in cases of medical malpractice the patient experiences two sources of distress: the physical pain associated with botched treatment but also the psychological distress rooted in a sense of moral outrage. Might some therapy patients, perhaps those with introjective pathology, experience some kind of moral distress in reaction to interpretations that seem wrong? (Note that the word “wrong” has a double meaning, relating to both a lack of factual correctness and a moral wrong.)

Note that an element in many daydreams of having a twin sibling is that of the imaginary twin being a complement to the daydreamer. The individual endows his twin with all the qualities and talents that he misses in himself and desires for himself. The twin thus represents his superego. In psychotherapy the narcissistic patient’s need for twinship, idealization, and mirroring represents the patient’s need for a therapist who is a perfect complement to himself, a therapist who will make interpretations that are fully attuned to the patient’s sense of self.

Compare Jeffrey Masson’s perceived needs upon entering his training analysis: “I knew that the idea of somebody saying ‘Tell me everything’ and
meaning it was an unbearably exciting, heady thing for me. That somebody
would first allow me to say everything that was in my mind, and then would
understand it,
promised a kind of intellectual and emotional utopia. It was the connection with another human soul that I was after.
J. Moussaieff Masson, Final Analysis: The Making and Unmaking of a
Psychoanalyst (Jeffrey Masson had very strong selfobject needs).

Does a twinship fantasy in therapy also encompass the notion that the therapist serve as a superego figure? If such a patient’s twinship needs are in fact associated with the patient’s placing the therapist in a superego role, are there moral implications (or superego issues) associated with that role assignment? What happens when the therapist makes an incorrect interpretation? Is the resulting distress in the patient simply narcissistic injury and narcissistic rage? See McLean, J. “Psychotherapy with a Narcissistic Patient Using Kohut’s Self Psychology Model.” J. Psychiatry, 4(10): 40-47 (Oct.
2007) (Narcissistic rage may occur at times in narcissistic patients, which Kohut believes is caused by a deflation of one’s archaic grandiosity or to a traumatic disappointment in an idealized figure, and this rage can evoke intense and violent destructive responses.). Or might the narcissistic injury be associated with a sense of moral outrage as well? A psychoanalyst might be able to address the issues with greater depth and insight.

What is notable about my personality is the strong trend of moral narcissism in my behavior in spheres outside therapy where, in my social relations, I seem to dread living with the corrupted self more than I dreads social rejection (or countertransference?). Moral narcissists strive to live up to heir ego ideal, as Freud would have it, rather than lower the ideal; they are individuals who feel compelled to “commit the truth.” The moral narcissist in his incarnation as a whistle-blower in a corrupt organization has a need to “set the record straight.” Might the moral narcissist in the therapy situation experience a special need to set the record straight? Will he experience a special need to critique every action and interpretation of the therapist to moderate his sense of moral outrage?

Perhaps it is no mere coincidence that the INTJ personality (Myers Briggs typology) has been described as one who is “bent on deconstructing and rebuilding every idea and system he comes into contact with, employing a sense of perfectionism and even morality to this work.”

d.) Need for Selfobjects in the Creative Personality — Transference of Creativity

The transference of creativity, whose defining example is Sigmund Freud’s transference onto Wilhelm Fliess (incidentally, in the context of a largely epistolary relationship), is a form of transference whose role is to accompany the fluctuations of creativity in the creator.

Initially implicit in Heinz Kohut’s work, this notion was explicitly mentioned by him from 1966 on. The correlative of the importance given to creativity, and a therapeutic factor or the effect of treatment that is not interpreted, it indicates a transformation of narcissism.

Starting with Freud’s self-analysis, Kohut stipulated in “Selected Problems of Self Psychological Theory” that Freud’s relationship with Fliess was not transference in the classical sense—there was no dissolution through insight—but rather a transference of creativity that disappeared at the same time as the narcissistic need. Fliess was a function that filled a void and facilitated Freud’s creativity. During certain creative periods, creators need self-objects in one sector of the self or another, without this necessarily indicating weaknesses in the self. The creator’s narcissistic configurations are more fluid at certain times, and the other person makes possible regulation of self-esteem and confidence possible.

Transference of creativity, a form of narcissistic transference outside of treatment, brings into play all the notions that come out of Kohut’s theory. Oppenheim, A. “Transference of Creativity.”

I would be interested to know how transference of creativity relates to the special transference needs of creative patients. What special distress is aroused in the creative patient in cases where transference of creativity cannot be achieved?

e.) The Secret Sharer Fantasy — Possible Issue in the Psychotherapy of Creative Patients

The secret sharer fantasy is a fantasy that was first discovered or described by the psychoanalyst Jules Glenn. See, Glenn, J. “Robert Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken’: Childhood, Psychoanalytic Symbolism, and Creativity.” In the secret sharer fantasy, two creative individuals form a strong emotional relationship and write for each other, symbolically uniting sexually and bringing forth an offspring. Although generally two creative individuals make up the duo, only one of the pair need be creative. It is not unusual for one to maintain the fantasy of the “creative secret sharer.” The secret sharer fantasy is a narcisssitic one, in which the double often represents the mother of early infancy with whom one merges and creates. It is also Oedipal in that in fantasy the relationship spans a product–unconsciously a baby. The Oedipal attachment may be of the positive or negative type. It is this layman’s opinion that there seems to be some relationship between the secret sharer fantasy and the fantasy of having an imaginary twin.

I would be interested to know how the secret sharer fantasy might relate to the narcissistic patient’s need for twinship, idealization and mirroring (as described by Kohut), see Marmarosh, C.L. and Mann, S. “Patients’ Selfobject Needs in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: How They Relate to Client Attachment, Symptoms, and the Therapy Alliance.” Psychoanalytic Psychology, 31(3): 297-313 (2014) 3/, and how the secret sharer fantasy might relate to the transference needs of the creative patient.

3/ Dr. Marmarosh is a Washington, DC psychologist. She is a Professor of Professional Psychology, Professional Psychology Program, Columbian College of Arts & Sciences, The George Washington University. She is an expert in attachment theory.