Every week after my psychotherapy sessions I do a write-up of the session, summarizing the work and analyzing our interaction and the therapist’s interpretations. I have the idea the therapist experiences my letters as a hostile enterprise, as if I were attacking her. She believes, I suppose, that I am attempting to provoke or or make her angry.
In a recent letter I stated that her reaction was an expression of her paranoia. I observed that perhaps I wanted to memorialize my sessions — provide her with a written report each week — so that she, in turn, would submit the letters to a third-party expert for review and analysis. That idea was simply an hypothesis.
I have evidence to support the idea that in fact I have a fantasy that one of the motives for the letters is that she will submit the letters to “experts.”
In my application for Social Security Disability Benefits in 1993 I described my paranoid fantasies. One of the enumerated fantasies was that my employer had been submitting my writings “to experts” for review and feedback.
I wrote: “(f.) My former employer has submitted a copy of my autobiography to various experts including Professors Peter Gay at Yale, Fritz Stern at Columbia, and Harold Bloom at New York University and Yale. I believe that my former employer has also consulted and submitted a copy of my autobiography to Dr. Ernst Ticho and Dr. Gerald Post, two local psychiatrists, as well as Dr. Anthony Storr, a psychiatrist in the United Kingdom. (I provided a copy of the autobiography to my current treating psychiatrist, Dr. Pitts.) I also believe that Mr. Robert Strauss, a founding partner of the firm and former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, gave a copy of my autobiography to former U.S. Secretary of State, James Baker in June 1991.”
That’s the fantasy of experts!
I used to think my therapist was paranoid. I now see her as starkly paranoid. She sees everything I do as a reaction to her. In fact, she seems incapable of making any interpretations that do not satisfy her projective needs.
It occurs to me that the fantasy of experts may be related to the Family Romance fantasy described by Rank and Freud. Perhaps, my imagined experts represent the idealized parent who I long for as a substitute for my real parents who have disappointed me.
My therapist disappoints me, so I fantasize imagined substitutes who will gratify my wishes and needs.
The Family romance is a psychological complex identified by Sigmund Freud in 1908, whereby the young child or adolescent fantasizes that they are really the children of parents of higher social standing than their actual parents.
More broadly, the term can be used to cover the whole range of instinctual ties between siblings, and parents and children.
In an early formulation of the fantasy Freud argued for the widespread existence among neurotics of a fable in which the present-day parents were imposters, replacing a real and more aristocratic pair; but also that in repudiating the parents of today, the child is merely “turning away from the father whom he knows today to the father in whom he believed in the earliest years of his childhood”.
Later psychoanalysts have added that the child may turn to imaginary parents of a lower (= uninhibited) social standing; and have seen the essence of the romance in the splitting and doubling of the parents – a dichotomixation which hinders the effective working through of the parent complex.
It is important to note that the Family Romance is Oedipal in nature and not rooted in the dyadic mother attachment, or the “attachment dance,” as my therapist would have it. My therapist seems oblivious to Oedipal issues.