Oh, Lordy, This Next Letter is going to be a doozy!!

Session with therapist — July 17, 2017

Notes for analysis

1.  Attachment dance.  I love my sister more than you.  “Trying to provoke your mother?”  Does she find letters provocative,

2.  Any therapists who felt you were attuned to you.
Dr. Palombo. (looked at context)  ability to withhold judgment  — no jump to conclusions
Hesse quote.  “We can understand one another; but each of us is able to interpret himself to himself alone.”  Hermann Hesse, Demian.  Need for uniqueness
intellectually gifted — inherent conflict between a gift patient and less intelligent therapists.
3.  Need to write about my experiences.  Not necessarily response to lack of attunement.    Typical of creative person.
Aciman quote:  “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.
bettelheim response  need to turn experiences into a research project  –superego functioning — scientific approach to life
The child’s dyadic relationship [with the primary caregiver] 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).
synthetic functioning:

Subject’s synthetic functioning, a libido-derived function, is highly developed, and impels him to harmonious unification and creativity in the broadest sense of the term. Subject’s highly-developed synthetic functioning impels him to simplify, to generalize, and ultimately to understand–by assimilating external and internal elements, by reconciling conflicting ideas, by uniting contrasts, and by seeking for causality. Campbell, R.J. Psychiatric Dictionary at 734 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989, 6th ed.).SYNTHETIC FUNCTIONING — AUTOPLASTIC ADAPTATION TO OBJECT LOSS — DEFENSIVE WITHDRAWAL OF EMOTIONAL INVESTMENT IN MOTHER

The unusual extension of subject’s synthetic function, beyond conventional parameters, may be viewed as an autoplastic adaptation to a severe stressor, namely, traumatic loss of the maternal object. Nunberg, H. “The Synthetic Function.” Practice and Theory of Psychoanalysis at 127. (New York: International Universities Press, 1948).

c fred alford moral narcissist or whistleblower: takes system more seriously than the system takes itself.  type of patient who takes therapy more seriously than other patients, or, perhaps, more seriously than therapist takes therapy herself.
notion that the system is corrupt — goldstein in 1984
past therapists pathologize giftedness
compare andre aciman quote to the following:  the writer goes to the party, then returns home to write about experiences; —  the potentially creative infant interacts with mother, then returns to his inner world to hallucinate the mother’s breast independent of needs gratifications; — The creative therapy patient interacts with therapist, returns home and hallucinates the therapy session which he memorializes in letters
“[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).
4.  Talk about problems in the session instead of writing letters.  Disingenuous.  Therapist responded defensively in the past.
1)” I don’t know what you want.  Do you want me to explain my theoretical orientation?”
2)  Not increasing my awareness.  Invalidated response.
3) Complained about saying I was narcissistic.  “In past you complained that you were afraid that I didn’t appreciate you pathology.”  Imputed contradiction.  No contradiction.
4)  Freud statement to Joan Riviere: “Write it,write it, put it down in black and white . . . get it out, produce it, make something of it, outside you, that is; give it existence independently of you.”
5) trauma response — freeze response   Comey anecdote.
6) Analysis paralysis — too many thoughts and associations
7.  Transference of creativity– creative persons need empathic selfobjects
secret sharer fantasy

Ironic Innuendo and the Chinese Communist Party


In October 2015 I introduced the concept of ironic innuendo — a subtle deprecation that inflames the sensitivities of leaders of authoritarian (paranoid) regimes.


Today the New York Times reported on a specific expression of ironic innuendo on the Internet that has roiled the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party. The Party has taken to censoring references to the cartoon character Winnie-the-Pooh, which the regime considers to constitute veiled and derogatory references to President Xi. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Communist Party in China decides to ban blue pens!

The Caliban Complex and my Intuitive Grasp of Kohut’s Theories

In my self-analysis The Caliban Complex (October 1988), I made the following observation based on Freud’s theories:

The subject, on the other had, seeks out objects whose ideals match those already existing in the prescriptive portion of his superego (ego ideal); his injured ego then introjects by way of identification, the valued qualities of the object, thereby enriching the ego with those qualities, and ultimately (1) diminishing the tension, or disparity (guilt), between the ego and the ego ideal, and (2) providing the ego with a bulwark against the claims of his conscience, i.e., the prescriptive portion of his superego (see final paragraph of footnote 14). By means of identification with certain others the subject obtains a general state of emotional well-being that is fundamentally grounded in a diminution of guilt. See Freud, S. (1921) “Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego” (especially the following sections: VII. Identification; VIII. Being in Love and Hypnosis; and XI. A Differentiating Grade in the Ego), reprinted in A General Selection from the Works of Sigmund Freud, at 169-209, Rickman, J. ed. (Doubleday: 1989). The subject’s ego ideal is narcissistic, and his sense of well being, when it is achieved, is that of perfect narcissistic integrity recovered through the introjection of idealized objects.)

We find echoes of these ideas, derived from Freud, in the theories of Heinz Kohut (The Analysis of the Self, 1971). I knew nothing about Kohut when I wrote The Caliban Complex.

The third group of disturbances occurs as a result of trauma in the Oedipal or even early latency period when the superego is not yet complete. The adult who experiences trauma during the late Oedipal and early latency years will have a superego that contains values and standards, yet he “will forever search for external idealizable objects from whom he needs to obtain the approval and leadership which his insufficiently idealized superego cannot provide.” (Kohut, 1971, p. 49. Allen M. Siegel, Heinz Kohut and the Psychology of the Self.


email Message to Walt Odets

Dr. Odets:

May I interest you to take a look at an unusual book I have written — a kind of novel — about an immigrant Jewish-Iranian family living in Manhattan. The text is in the attachment. The book owes a debt to your father’s play Paradise Lost. In fact, my father (born the same year as your father) was a close friend of your father’s cousin and spent many happy hours at Esther Rossman’s house.

Gary Freedman
Washington, DC


Bi-Polar, my ass!!

MENTAL STATUS EXAMINATION: Patient came to both interviews appropriately groomed and dressed. He appeared his stated age. He spoke with a normal tone of voice. His speech was pressured and rapid but clear. He manifested flight of ideas and occasional looseness of associations. He had paranoid ideations which occasionally bordered on a delusional level.


Although of course all gifted individuals are unique, they do share certain characteristics. Some of these are present naturally, others have come into existence gradually through interaction with the environment. Cause and effect can therefore not always be distinguished from each other.

Speed of thinking. Gifted individuals think more quickly than others. They make many mental switches, associate rapidly and give the impression that they jump from one subject to the next.

High sensitivity. A higher development potential often is accompanied by high sensitivity7. This high sensitivity manifests itself in different areas: psychomotoric, sensorial, intellectual, imaginative, emotional,7 and can resemble ADHD.

Over-stimulation of the senses manifests itself auditively (machines, radios, smacking lips), visually (light sources) or sense of touch (certain fabrics, labels in clothing, or touching). Currently, there is a high level of interest being shown in high sensitivity in general8.

Introversion. The internal world of the gifted is particularly well-developed. They are quickly and easily hurt, which is why they tend to keep people at a distance. Some avoid parties and suchlike since the topics of conversation do not interest them. This can resemble autism9. Introversion can also arise through having the feeling of being rejected. People with high IQs would seem to have difficulty meeting like-minded people, which can quickly lead them to become isolated10.

Emotional development. Many gifted individuals feel emotions strongly. But because cognitive thinking dominates and provides safety, emotional development remains relatively underdeveloped. They have difficulty in linking feelings and reason. This can be reinforced when an individual has felt lonely from a young age. For example, when the environment does not acknowledge or recognize the child as being gifted. Fortunately, the emotional development of many gifted individuals has progressed well.

Creativity. The thought processes of the gifted differ from those of average intelligence: they are more global in nature and with a strong capacity for imagination. Averagely intelligent people can often not follow their train of thought. They can identify patterns quickly, so that they can, for example, predict trends successfully. They can often draw conclusions intuitively. This creativity is often frustrated by the regular education system.

Independence. The forming of judgments and opinions often takes place autonomously. They are non-conformist and therefore display what teachers easily label as ‘inappropriate behavior’11. This independence accompanies the creativity mentioned above. They often have an aversion to non-democratic authority12.

Perfectionism. Perfectionism is often accompanied by having too high expectations of others, but also with shame, guilt feelings and feelings of inferiority through not being able to meet their own high expectations 9,13. This leads to tension and occasionally ‘paralysis’.

Learning style. The learning style of the gifted is often exploratory. They have an extreme dislike of learning lists, they find it uninteresting and become bored12. Often, they do not understand the teacher’s questions or the questions in the text books, because they are looking for things that aren’t there. This leads to frustration. Some gifted adults lack basic knowledge but have a lot of knowledge in areas that they are interested in. They often fail to develop learning strategies because they never learn from their failures9.

Fear of failure and under-performing. If their intelligence is not stimulated, children often develop bad working habits14. They sometimes think that they are stupid, become afraid of failure and start under-performing9. Their motivation to learn decreases. This can result later in frustrations and disappointments in their career.

The Relationship between Heinz Kohut’s Theory of Narcissism and Sidney Blatt’s Introjective Personality

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.

Compare introjective pathology as described by Sidney Blatt:

Individuals with a self-critical personality style may be more vulnerable to depressive states in response to disruptions in self-definition and personal achievement. These individuals may experience “introjective” depressive states around feelings of failure and guilt centered on self-worth. In “Levels of Object Representation in Anaclitic and Introjective Depression,” Sidney Blatt reviews Fenichel and Bibring’s theories of development and extrapolates that introjective depression is considered more developmentally advanced than anaclitic depression. This conclusion is supported by both Bibring and Fenichel’s discussions that one source of depression (anaclitic) is primarily oral in nature, originating from unmet needs from an omnipotent caretaker; while another source is related to the (more developmentally advanced) formation of the superego and involves the more developmentally advanced phenomena of guilt and loss of self-esteem during the oedipal stage.

Patients with introjective disorders are plagued by feelings of guilt, self-criticism, inferiority, and worthlessness. They tend to be more perfectionistic, duty-bound, and competitive individuals, who often feel like they have to compensate for failing to live up to the perceived expectations of others. Within the introjective configuration, neurotic-level pathology ranges from paranoia, at the more primitive end of this spectrum, to obsessive compulsive disorders in the middle of the spectrum, to phallic narcissism and guilt-laden depression (i.e., introjective depression) at the higher end. Borderlinelevel pathology is of an introjective, or over-ideational type. Psychotic-level pathology includes paranoid schizophrenia, characterized by more rigid and fragmented-functioning compared with their more amorphous anaclitic counterparts (Ibid). If we are mapping introjective personality pathology onto DSM-III-R nosology, we find the Paranoid, Schizoid, Schizotypic, Antisocial, Narcissistic, Avoidant, Obsessive-Compulsive, and Self-Defeating personality disorders.

What is common among introjective pathologies is the preoccupation with more aggressive themes (as opposed to libidinal) of identity, self-definition, self-worth, and self-control. In the pathologically-introjective, development of satisfying interpersonal relationships is neglected as these individuals are inordinately preoccupied with establishing an acceptable identity (Ibid). As the authors note well, “The focus . . . is not on sharing affection—of loving and being loved—but rather on defining the self as an entity separate from and different than another, with a sense of autonomy and control of one’s mind and body, and with feelings of self-worth and integrity . . . The basic wish is to be acknowledged, respected, and admired.” It is suggested this preoccupation stems, in part, from a past in which important others have been controlling, overly-critical, punitive, judgmental, and intrusive—thus creating an environment in which independence and separation was made difficult.

email Message to Dori Laub, M.D.

To Dori Laub, M.D.:

I have a background of emotional abuse and trauma. Perhaps you would be interested to take a look at an unusual book — a kind of novel — I wrote that is a creative transformation of my trauma. The book is called The Emerald Archive and can be accessed at the following link.


Gary Freedman
Washington, DC


Terrific Haircut at Puglisi

If you want a terrific haircut at a reasonable price, go to Puglisi. I’ve been going to Puglisi since the mid-1980s, when Reagan was still president. Tony Puglisi was actually a young man back then !!   And Trachtenberg was still in law school !!  Puglisi had a different location, but I followed him to his new location on the GW campus.


This is from 1998!!


Session with Therapist on July 10, 2017

I opened the session by saying that I had brought in two critiques I had written of previous therapists: that I did not simply write critiques of her work. I pointed out that I had twenty sessions with a psychologist (William D. Brown, Ph.D.) in 1991 and that I had written a critique of him in 1998, seven years later. I pointed out that I had ruminated on these issues for seven years. I said that I also wrote a critique of a session I had with a previous psychiatrist I had seen in the year 2009 (Abas Jama, M.D.).

The therapist responded, “I feel that you are warning me.” I said, “Warning you?” She said, “Yes, you are warning me that you might be thinking about our work for years to come and writing about me years from now.”

I interpreted the therapist’s statement as another one of her paranoid observations in line with her previous paranoid interpretations.

What I had said was that I had experienced previous work with therapists as distressing (evidence of previous therapists’ lack of attunement with my narcissistic needs) and that I later wrote about these distressing interactions with therapists as a way of moderating my distress (an act of self-soothing). What the therapist did in this instance (“You are warning me”) is to ignore the context of the previous writings and base her interpretation on the perceived relevance of my comments to my relationship with her: my comments were interpreted by her as a veiled threat.

At a previous session I had pointed out that I saw myself as emotionally resilient and I saw my sister as emotionally vulnerable. The therapist responded: “I feel that you are judging your sister.”

As I pointed out in a previous critique:

It is as if the therapist only concentrates on things that I talk about that arouse a narcissistic injury in her. She ignores most of what I say that does not arouse a narcissistic injury in her.

When I criticize past therapists the therapist says, “People who idealize some people devalue others.” 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.”

At the present session, when I report that I found my work with previous therapists as distressing and that I critiqued their work to moderate that distress, her response was, “I feel that you are warning 1/ (threatening) me.”

The therapist plays out the same dynamic again and again in seemingly endless variation. When I report a past experience or a past interaction with another person, she denudes the report of any meaning and proceeds to look only at the nexus of my report to her — she invests that report with aggression whether or not the report of past experience had anything to do with aggression. At the present session my report of past interaction with third parties related to my feelings of narcissistic distress (with previous therapists), namely lack of attunement, and to my acts of self-soothing (writing about or analyzing my experience). The therapist ignores the issues of narcissistic distress and self-soothing and looks only at the nexus with her (i.e., the report per se) and invests that report with aggression. In the end, no matter what I talk about, I will always be depicted as an aggressive person (or a person longing for attachment). That is to say, no matter what I talk about I will be depicted only as an object with an aggressive drive or an erotic drive (a bad object). Persons in my environment will be denuded of identity and drives (and defenses). That is, they are depicted as the good object.

There is something notably paranoid and infantile about the therapist’s interpretations. By appraising my reports as relating only to her she seems to view our relationship as identical to the relationship between a mother and infant. In the mind of the infant, the mother only exists in relation to the infant: the mother has no other identity. The mother either satisfies the infant’s libidinal strivings or frustrates the infant’s needs (prototype of the aggressive drive). 2/ In the mind of the infant, the mother exists only in her nexus with the infant’s libidinal needs or the frustration of those needs.

What puzzles me is whether the therapist’s narrow viewpoint evidences her character pathology or whether it is a legitimate therapeutic technique. Or, perhaps, as I mentioned in a previous writing, has the therapist found an adaptive niche for her character pathology in her particular theoretical orientation — a theoretical orientation that allows her to adaptively play out her paranoid (object splitting) needs and infantile needs (her exclusive or simplistic focus on libido and aggression)?


1/ At my first consult with this therapist in April 2017 she issued a warning to me, “If you miss two sessions with me, I will have to terminate your treatment.” In my 25 years of psychotherapy I can’t remember any of my previous 16 therapists issuing a warning. One wonders if the issue of a “warning” has some personal, emotionally-charged meaning for this therapist.

2/ “I propose that affects are instinctive components of human behavior, that is, inborn dispositions that are common to all individuals of the human species. I propose that they emerge in the earliest stages of development and are gradually organized as part of early object relations into gratifying, rewarding, pleasurable affects or libido as an overarching drive, and into painful, aversive, negative affects which are organized into aggression as an overarching drive. Within this conceptualization, affects are inborn, constitutionally and genetically determined modes of reaction that are triggered first by various physiological and bodily experiences, and then by the development of object relations from the beginning of life on.” Kernberg, O. “Aggression and Transference in Severe Personality Disorders.”