When I was 24 years old I began once a week psychotherapy with a psychoanalyst/psychiatrist, I.J. Oberman at the Northwest Institute of Psychiatry in Philadelphia.

Dr. Oberman had a confrontive, combative style. He routinely denied or invalidated many things I said. He told me I was deluded. When I told him I was happy when I was a kid, he said vehemently, “You were never happy!” When I told him I booked a trip to Italy he said I wouldn’t enjoy it because I couldn’t get enjoyment out of anything. He once said a revealing thing. In response to something I said, he responded, “I can easily make ashes out of that.” I had the feeling it was a game to him — seeing how readily he could dismiss and invalidate what I said.

I recently made a connection with Dr. Oberman’s work as a forensic psychiatrist. He testified in court often. And what does opposing counsel do in court? He demolishes everything the expert says. Was Dr. Oberman scapegoating me? Was he making me feel the way he was made to feel in court? I don’t know. I don’t know if the proceedings he testified in were adversarial in nature.

Dr. Oberman’s perception of me was that I was highly intelligent. When I told him I was accepted to law school he said, “You should become a law professor. I see you becoming a law professor.” Did his perception of me as intelligent affect his interaction with me?

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