In 1990 I told my then-treating psychiatrist, Stanley R. Palombo, M.D. an anecdote:
“In late October 1987 I went over CWD’s place after work. I worked at Hogan and Hartson at that time. It was a friendly invite. Daniel Cutler was there too. They were roommates at that time and both of them worked at Hogan. Well, when I got there, they had placed a mattress on the living room floor. After a few minutes Daniel Cutler carried the mattress back to his bedroom. I thought the mattress was a prank — a reference to the fact that I was supposed to be a homosexual who was in love with Craig.”
Dr. Palombo tried to convince me that I was paranoid. In his opinion, my inference about the mattress was a paranoid inference that grew out of the fact that I was irrationally hypersensitive about the idea that people thought I was a homosexual. On one occasion, Dr. Palombo said to me: “It bothers you that people think you’re a homosexual.” That’s the analyst’s paranoid-schizoid anxiety in my opinion. The patient is the sole repository of drives. The patient’s environment is always benign and rational. The patient’s inferences are always “paranoid inferences.” The environment’s inferences about the patient are always “rational opinion” based on something that the patient has done to cause the environment to rationally infer something about the patient. It’s interesting that psychoanalysts form inferences about patients based on patterns of thought and feeling in the patients’ narratives. Why is it incomprehensible that a nonanalyst may form reasonable inferences about his environment based on other people’s course of conduct over time?
Later on the evening in October 1987 referenced above I said to CWD and Daniel, “I know you two think I’m a homosexual.” Daniel Cutler said in mock disbelief: “Homosexual! Where did you get that idea? We don’t think you’re a homosexual. We never had that idea. Why do you think that? You must be working too many hours [note the reference to overtime hours]. It’s warped your brain!”
Be that as it may.
In late February 1988 my temp assignment at Hogan was terminated under what I thought were cloudy circumstances. My supervisor (Miriam Chilton) told me: “You were hired to work on a backlog. We’ve cleared up the backlog and we no longer need your services.” I had a suspicion that the termination had something to do with a rumor that I had been engaged in some kind of hanky panky centering on generating overtime for myself.
Several days later, in early March 1988 I started a new assignment at another law firm, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. I worked as a paralegal on a document production task for the client Eastern Airlines. There was a large team of paralegals working on the Eastern case. Early in my assignment I had the suspicion that somebody had spread a rumor that I was homosexual. In late 1991 my position at Akin Gump was terminated, again, under cloudy circumstances. The reason for the termination was never explained to me to my satisfaction.
My sister said to me: “You had the same problems at this firm that you had at the other firm.” My sister said that several times. Interestingly anti-Semites always say the same thing about the Jews: “They have problems in every country they live in. Everywhere they go they cause problems. They can’t get along with anybody.”
Does it bother me that people think I am homosexual? Is that the issue? Or is the problem that I am troubled by intense sexualization? And who, by the way, wouldn’t be bothered by intense sexualization? Where do we see intense sexualization? One place is racism. Black males are depicted as hypersexualized, consumed with ravenous sexual appetites. They are depicted as having huge penises. Historically, it appears that out-groups tend to be sexualized. Sander Gilman examined Sigmund Freud addressing the question of what role, if any, was played by Freud’s Jewish origins in his composition of the psychoanalytic corpus. Gilman’s thesis concerning this subject is that the prejudices of biology in the nineteenth century classified the Jew as being somehow feminine a stigma that Freud sought to escape by carving out a scientific niche of his own. Licensed by his own brand of science, Freud could simultaneously lay claim to the manhood that the Viennese scientific establishment of the nineteenth century threatened to deny him, and also to the neutrality that was the warrant of its authority.
The Culture of Hypersexualization at Hogan & Hartson
A collection of anecdotes that spring to mind highlight the issue of hypersexualization at the firm.
–I started working at Hogan in September 1985.
–Espe, the computer supervisor, started at the firm in May 1986
–Daniel Cutler started at the firm in the late summer of 1986
–CWD started at the firm in October 1986.
–Sexual rumors about me emerged for the first time in February 1987. So from September 1985 to February 1987 there were no sexual rumors about me. Coincidentally, it was in mid-February 1987 that the then supervisor Sheryl Ferguson announced that she would be leaving the firm.
–On an unusually warm day in March 1987 I commented on how hot it was in the office. CWD said to me: “Why don’t you take all your clothes off, Gary?” I said, “Mary Jane wouldn’t be able to keep her mind on her work. (I paused.) . . . For weeks.” CWD repeated: “For weeks.”
–In the summer of 1987 at a lunch for employees (the summer intern Brett Rome was going back to Princeton) CWD was talking to another employee, Tom MacIsaac about the Princeton football team. CWD made a snide comment about the masculinity of Princeton team members. He seemed to suggest that Princeton’s football team was made up of homosexuals.
–On August 16, 1988 at lunch with CWD and Michael Wilson, CWD commented on the sexual proclivities of Congressmen: “They spend their time fucking their pages.” (Note the reference to workplace sexual liaisons).
–In September 1989 at lunch with CWD, Michael Wilson and John Falk I asked, “What is Joel Dorrow doing in Boston with Miriam?” CWD and Michael Wilson said simultaneously, “Fucking Miriam.” Joel Dorrow had been the computer tech at Hogan & Hartson. Miriam Chilton had been the supervisor of the Computer Applications Department where CWD, Wilson and I had worked. (Note the reference once again to a workplace sexual liaison.)
–In 1988 CWD (aged 29) embarked on a sexual relationship with a 19-year-old college intern in the Department.
–On Thanksgiving 1988 I spent the afternoon and evening at Daniel Cutler’s apartment on MacArthur Boulevard. Daniel Cutler’s friend, Axel Martinez was also there. Axel Martinez had no connection to Hogan, but at one point he said to me, “Are you in love with CWD?” (Obviously that rumor was transmitted by Daniel Cutler.)
Compare the following: “Later on the evening in October 1987 referenced above I said to CWD and Daniel, ‘I know you two think I’m a homosexual.’ Daniel Cutler said in mock disbelief: “Homosexual! Where did you get that idea? We don’t think you’re a homosexual. We never had that idea. Why do you think that? You must be working too many hours [note the reference to overtime hours]. It’s warped your brain!'”
(It was on that Thanksgiving evening that Daniel Cutler said, “All of CWD’s friends are saying he should marry Alex(andra). Her father’s loaded.” Note Daniel Cutler’s preoccupation with overtime and a rich Jewish father-in-law. On one occasion he said to me: “Isn’t it true that it was the Jews who built the concentration camps?” (He was referring to Jewish slave labor.) Daniel Cutler started working at the firm in the late summer of 1986. One of my first recollections of him was his saying to me: “How are your rental properties?” I don’t own rental properties.
Why was Dr. Palombo so intent on depicting me as paranoid? Why did he censor any attempt I made to talk about anti-Semitism, as if I was paranoid? Any reasonable person in my circumstances would draw the conclusions that I drew. But again, the patient is the sole repository of all drives and all defenses. The patient’s environment is always rational and benign. Paranoid schizoid anxiety. How do patients find that therapeutic posture beneficial? What does it say about me that I have always resisted the therapist’s paranoid schizoid anxiety?
–In early August 1987 CWD wrote a memo to the supervisor Miriam Chilton advising of his vacation plans. The inappropriate sexual tone of the memo caused Miriam Chilton to chastize CWD and ask him to rewrite the memo using professional language.
–In May 1990 CWD and I had lunch together. I said, “When are we going to go jogging together?” He replied: “You only want to go jogging with me because you want to see me in shorts.”
–In the fall of 1987 CWD (standing) leaned against me as I was seated at my desk. He rubbed back and forth against me as he retrieved a pen from the far side of my desk. I experienced CWD’s behavior as sexual in nature.
–In March 1989 CWD invited me over his place. Daniel Cutler was there. At one point, while I was seated in a chair CWD stood in front of me and started to thrust his hips in an unmistakable sexual manner. He had been drinking.
–In June 1987 there arose a rumor at Hogan that CWD was having a workplace sexual relationship with a supervisory employee named Espe in exchange for a job promotion.
The secretary Laura Mayo was the source of the rumor. I don’t know if it was true. But I can say that there are only two possible conclusions: (1.) Either there was a sex-for-promotion scheme involving CWD and Espe or (2.) the Department was rife with sexual rumors (or hypersexualization). In either case, the rumor — whether true or false — is evidence of a sexually-charged environment.
Laura Mayo showed me a letter of complaint about Espe that she planned to submit to the legal assistant administrator, Freddie Rios.
When CWD said in August 1988 “Congressmen spend their time fucking their pages,” was that an unintended and unconscious admission about his own workplace behavior?
BASIC ASSUMPTIONS GROUP BEHAVIOR AT HOGAN
In February 1987 Daniel Cutler organized a work slow down against the employer. At a staff meeting he threatened the attorney, David Kikel: “If we work all the overtime hours you want us to work, what’s in it for us?” Note once again Daniel Cutler’s reference to overtime.
In retrospect I have formed the opinion that the employees in the Department comprised a (paranoid) fight-flight basic assumptions group that vacillated between fighting the employer/creating a scapegoat and goofing off (flight behavior). According to Dr. Kernberg, the individual who will be drafted to be the de facto leader of a flight/flight basic assumptions group will be the most paranoid member of the group. Daniel Cutler appeared to be the ringleader of the Department’s employees, or leader of a fight/flight basic assumptions group in which I was intensely sexualized.
SEXUALIZATION AND BASIC ASSUMPTIONS GROUP BEHAVIOR AT AKIN GUMP
At Akin Gump there arose very early in my employment a rumor that I was homosexual. I was sexualized throughout my employment at the firm. The group of Eastern paralegals among whom I worked were a more or less homogeneous, tightly-knit group (according to group theorists homogeneous groups tend to be paranoid, scorning people who are different). In June 1988 Akin Gump’s legal assistant administrator, Mararita Babb said to me: “The Eastern paralegals are cliquish. They might not accept you.”
Was the Eastern paralegal group a (paranoid) fight-flight basic assumptions group? Open question. The leader of the group was the Eastern paralegal J.D. Neary. Was J.D. Neary the de facto leader of a (paranoid) fight-flight basic assumptions group? Remember, according to Dr. Kernberg, fight-flight basic assumptions groups will recruit as their leader the most paranoid member of the group, i.e., the person who is the most driven to fight “the enemy” or create scapegoats within the group — and lead the group in flight.
J.D. Neary worked closely with Maggie Sinnott, the legal assistant administrator who followed Margarita Babb. It would be interesting if J.D. Neary and Maggie Sinnott had had a sexual relationship. That would parallel the rumored relationship between CWD and Espe at Hogan. I can only repeat my sister’s observation: “You had the same problems at the other firm that you had at this firm.” Was one of the unnamed “same problems” the fact that I was a triangulated employee in an illicit sexual relationship between a supervisor and another employee? One wonders.
But there’s something else of interest.
In the triangular relationship between my sister, my brother-in-law and me I was intensely sexualized, with my brother-in-law insistently trying to convince my sister over many years that I was homosexual and that random nonsexual events had sexual meaning. Supposedly, I chewed my food like a homosexual, I happened to like a particular movie about the Russian Revolution because I was a homosexual, my friendships were homosexual in nature, I had a girlfriend because I was a homosexual trying to prove that I was not a homosexual (that’s prototypical paranoid ideation), and on and on ad nauseum.
My brother-in-law started his own business that employed a number of persons. Was that employee group a fight/flight basic assumptions group with my brother-in-law as the de facto leader? One wonders.
And of course, the relationship between my sister and brother-in-law was sexual in nature — they were married, after all.
Again, did Espe and CWD have a sexual relationship? Was my sexualization at the firm an aspect of triangulation of their illicit sexual relationship? Note that if Espe and CWD were having a sexual relationship, they were concealing a secret.
Did Daniel Cutler and CWD triangulate (sexualize) me as an aspect of their two-party male-male relationship? Keep in mind, CWD and Daniel Cutler were roommates for almost a year from 1987-1988.
Did J.D. Neary and Maggie Sinnott have a sexual relationship? Was my sexualization at Akin Gump an aspect of triangulation of an illicit sexual relationship? (It is fact that Maggie Sinnott had a sexual relationship with one of the firm’s partners, an alcoholic. One wonders who else she had sexual relationships with at the firm?) Note that if J.D. Neary and Maggie Sinnott were having a sexual relationship, they were concealing a secret.
Does all of this go back to my triangulation by my parents? According to the psychoanalysts Bell and Vogel, married couples with a high level of marital discord will triangulate or scapegoat one child to moderate tensions in their marital relationship.
How is it that Dr. Palombo had no interest in any of this or its clearly Oedipal implications? His only comment was, “It bothers you that people think you’re a homosexual.” The question is “Why do some couples or groups need me to be a sexualized party to their relationships?” That’s the important issue of psychoanalytical interest. Again, it’s paranoid-schizoid anxiety in the therapist. The patient’s environment is always benign and rational. The patient is the repository of all drives and all defenses.
Psychoanalysts have no idea what I am talking about. Help me, Dr. Caligor, help me!