Thursday, October 5, 2017

deflating as a feminine form of aggression



There are many forms of aggression related to the breast (which can also be transcribed to the penis). I've been able to corroborate Klein on tearing up the breast into pieces, on sucking it dry and withering it, but I'd like to add another that I've encountered a few times now as popping and deflating it.

It's strange because it is cartoony, but when a patient is in the throes of anger, they have been able to discharge it through the idea that a person is a skin sack or has no substance or depth to them, and popping them with a pin or small blade will cause them to deflate. In projective identification it also belongs to the idea of increasing one's size and becoming huge ("bigger than an elephant").

There are also other relations, such as crushing, but I'm not yet sure if they are masculine or feminine.




Wednesday, October 4, 2017

working with thing presentations and fantasies

When a client "projects" out a thing or symbols from the area in which they feel sensation, the first thing is to ascertain if there is a second step.

In the previous post the balloon on the nails naturally makes you think of the next step, the popping.

One client projected out the image of a goblin with a metal mask or more precisely a metal covering on his head. The metal sheet is strange and when I asked the patient what is under it he told me that he picture the exposed brain and he was able to "introject" the exposed brain into his own brain and map it onto the sensations of his brain.

At the point when the image is fully embedded, I ask the if there body wants to do anything with it, or if their mind wants to take them to when this image came into them. Some people's bodies want to process the image but some people feel a mental connection with it.

Sometimes a whole fantasy is projected out. If this happens you ask them to tell a story that leads to an event. Often the event will be an infantile anxiety situation, but sometimes the fantasy leads to them correcting what is wrong with the parental imagos themselves. Regarding the former, here is an example:


I ask client to focus on all the people he felt judged by and to see who registers the strongest for him. He stops the BLS and tells me that his mother does and tells me that he feels tension in his shoulders from when he focused on her.

I ask him to see if the sensation there wants to develop (i.e. grow bigger, move somewhere, becoming a feeling, etc.) and he says that it doesn't. I ask him to project it out (i.e. if someone or something looks on the outside like this feels inside your shoulders, what do you picture?). He tells me that he sees a rope bridge. He elaborates that he pictures himself standing on it and that there are wooden boards going across ropes on the bottom and ropes running higher to hold. He also adds that some boards are missing. I ask him to make a story up. He's on one side and wants to get to the other and there are some boards missing, so I ask him to tell me what he imagines might happen. He first says, he makes it to the other side and smiles as if he knows that he's getting away with something. He then tells me that there's a "big gap" and he has to jump it. I ask him if he imagines that he makes it or not and he seems coy about the answer and so I ask him to tell me what would happen if he doesn't. He tells me that "it's a long way down... and then splat". I begin BLS and ask him if he focusses more on the fall or the splat and he says the fall. He stops me and says the fall. He reports that his shoulders get more tense and he begins to move them around in the chair. I tell him that the tension relates to the fall and that constriction can often relate to simple fight and flight impulses. I ask him to picture himself falling and to get a sense for the tone of the movement. I begin BLS. He tells me that it's flight and he feels like flailing his arms. I get him to imagine he's falling and to flail and keep doing it until he feels like the energy is discharged.

Client reports that the tension is diminished but that it's not all gone. I ask him to go in to the fantasy again, and to again see what his body wants him to do and if there might not be a different kind of action that might express the "flight" better. I begin BLS and after client stops me, he reports that he ended up in the fetal position. He reports that he also imagined himself hitting the ground, and that it was with a "thud" instead of a splat. I ask him if he survived it and he casually tells me that he died still. I ask him to picture the intact corpse and to see if he can picture the intactness of it and feel it into his shoulders and I begin BLS. He tells me that it doesn't feel right to do so, but adds that he felt a pin prick of pain flash in right under his shoulders and that he can feel the tension moving to his chest. I ask him to focus on the development that wants to happen and continue BLS. He tells me that the tension grew in his chest but that it just stopped again. Because of the idiosyncrasy of the rope bridge and the commonality of phallic and breast symbols that I usually encounter in my work, I ask him to tell me what the first picture is that comes to mind when he thinks of rope. He tells me that "big and thick... like in the movies" comes to mind and adds that "the end is frayed." I ask him to picture it in his chest and shoulders and see if it feels right in either place. He tells me that it feels right in his chest and continues to picture it there, as I continue BLS, and he lets it embed all the way. He reports that the tension dissolved in his chest and that it moved to his right bicep. I ask him to stay with it there and see if it wants to get bigger, move, or has any process in it. He tells me that it stayed the same. 


I ask client to return to the original memory of his mother.  He gets into it more now and talks about how she "threw him away," turned her back on him, and judged him. He expresses that you might expect your father to turn his back on you but your mother is never supposed to. She is supposed to be there no matter what. He focusses on the memory, but this time there is affect there. I ask him to express it to her from the memory and that if he feels like the words are not enough, that he needs to act on whatever his body tells him to do. I begin BLS. When he stops me, he tells me that he expressed his anger, in words, and that she got angry back at him and said that she was ashamed of him and that he ended up walking away from her. I am not sure if this is growth, as similar thoughts have been for others, or whether this is a failure to deal with his maternal imago. I ask client to watch the scene replay again but to watch it from the 3rd person ("as if it is in a movie") and to see if his body has a reaction to it. Client reports he still feels the bicep pain. I ask him what he thinks of his mother's reaction. He says that she never apologizes, acts like she is perfect and never makes mistakes, thinks she's better than other people. He tells me that it's as if "she denies being a drug addict herself back in the day." I ask him if he ever told her these thoughts and he says that he has tried but that she "just talks over me." I explain to him that he has to get her to listen to him and really hear him. I explain that when she turned her back on him that it hurt him so much that a part of him became frozen and continues to feel like every other authority in his life sees him as bad as she does. I tell him that he needs to tell her that she has hurt him and is carrying this with him. I begin BLS and after a while he reports that he explained this to her, took accountability for what he had been doing, and that she admitted that she had been harsh, as a parent, and that she hadn't been there for him and his siblings like she should have been. He tells me that the scene ended in a hug. I ask him to focus on this hug and see if his body has any reactions to it. He tells me that the tension in his bicep is gone and that he can breathe easier. I continue the BLS and ask him if there are any other shifts or developments that still need to complete. He takes a bit of time but then tells me that he's good. I then ask him to focus on the openness he now feels to tell me if he's ever felt this way before. He tells me at the birth of his child. I ask him to visualize all the details he can of the room, the doctor, etc. and to tell me when they have come into him as much as they can and begin BLS. He laughs during the process but continues and signals that he's done. I ask him what happened and he tells me that a man from another hospital room stopped by and said that his little girl "has lungs on her" (i.e. regarding her crying). 

thing presentations

Lacan famously said the unconscious is structured like a language.

Freud did not and talked about thing presentations as being equal to word presentations. Words can become things (visual representations) in dreams and things can become words.

Freud, S. (1915). The Unconscious. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XIV (1914-1916): On the History of the Psycho-Analytic Movement, Papers on Metapsychology and Other Works, 159-215

Freud, S. (1917). A Metapsychological Supplement to the Theory of Dreams. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XIV (1914-1916): On the History of the Psycho-Analytic Movement, Papers on Metapsychology and Other Works, 217-235


The ego is first a body-mind or psyche-soma and it doesn't think in words but in images/pictures/mimesis.

When one realizes this, then the associations and fantasies one produces with a patient as well as the zones in the body which register the repressed feelings or drives can be worked with somatically.

Round things (breasts) and long cylindrical things (penises) often show up to correspond to certain body zones and, as Klein pointed out, these things are phantasied as destroyed in various ways.

But fuller images and also representations of people in action also show up.

Here's a quick example, but many vignettes from previous posts already have such things in them too:


I’ve done assertiveness work with client and he reports that some people in his life have been “shocked” with him saying no. I ask him what’s going on in his life and he tells me he watched 'The Goonies' and he loves Data. This develops into a theme of how client identifies as the person in his friend group who has to have crazy ideas, music, or something to offer the others. He’s not a full member but a cartoon character of sorts. He can’t just be there and be a “person” but has to do something. However, as we go further into this theme he brings up a friend, his “best friend,” who has no job, plays video games all the time, and would just be alone if it wasn’t for him. I ask him what he thinks would happen to him if client was no long in his life and he says that he’d ‘disappear and  go off the grid”. Client goes into how he’s “the charismatic one” and his friend is the asocial one, and gets into some more particulars of the relationship. Afterwards I ask client how much this resembles the relationship with his mother (who he had previously referred to as having been his best friend) and if he was the asocial one with her. He said that she “tried to make him the asocial one” but that he would talk and say things “with no filter” and that she’d often “get butt hurt about it”. He suddenly adds “I talk to much” and “I need to shut up”. I ask him to focus on this feeling and begin bilateral stimulation (BLS). He registers it in his heart. I ask him to stay with the feeling and to see if it wants to develop (get bigger, move, get smaller) and continue the BLS. He feels like it is the same, so I ask him to project it out. He says it seems like a balloon on a bed of nails. I ask him to explain and he says that a balloon on a nail will pop it but when it is “10 nails” then it evens out the pressure and it doesn’t pop. I ask him to pay attention to this set up and if the balloon just stays there, resting on the nails, or if anything eventually happens. He stays still and thinks and then slams his hand down on the desk signaling that the balloon will be popped. I ask him where his attention goes, to the bed of nails or to the left overs of the balloon. He says the latter and I ask him to picture the deflated remnants and to see if they feel right in his heart or chest and begin BLS. He signals that it feels right and he tells me that as it embeds there, that it slowly begins stretching across his chest. I tell him to follow the process to completion and he does.

I ask him what it feels like and he tells me that it reminds him of when he gets in trouble and how his heart beats really hard. He also tells me that when he talks with “no filter” that it’s a rush too, and maybe even talking in general is a rush. We talk about the asocial side of him and how he used to be quiet but he feared “becoming invisible”. He adds that “being center of attention is cool” but that part of the issue is that he “doesn’t like the quiet”. He suddenly switches gears and renames his asocial side the “timid” side and talks about how as a kid that “even [his] birthdays were never about [him]” He says that his parents invited over their friends and got drunk. He adds that his parents friends were his friends and he didn’t have any his age. He adds poetic phrases like “I don’t like living behind a curtain” and adds the he “doubt[s] that anyone wants to talk to [him]; [he] just talks to talk”. I ask him to focus on this feeling and he reports that his stomach feels “empty” I continue the BLS and he says it is also a little painful and squeamish. I ask him to imagine that someone sees him from the outside and how they might imagine he looks and he says “sad” (with nothing else coming to mind). I ask him to put these into object statements and he says that his grandpa comes to mind. He tells me about how his grandpa is alone and no one visits him and that its sad. I ask him to picture his grandpa looking this way and to see if a reaction shows up in his body. He does so says it feels like “shit/garbage” in his stomach. I ask him to stay with this feeling and see if it wants to develop. He says no and I ask him to project it out. He tells me that it looks like an asshole who is pissed off and screaming. I repeat asshole? He asks me if I know Alex Jones and explains how he has a red face and begins to do an impression of him saying that the tap water is making the frogs gay. I ask him to bring it in and to see where it feels right. He says in the jaw and I continue the BLS. He tells me his jaw “is straining super hard” and he opens it and I tell him to stop and just to let the asshole fully embed. He eventually signals that it is in and then I ask him what his body is doing with it now that it’s in. He tells me that its being dissolved. I continue the BLS and he then signals that it’s done. I ask him if there is any sense of well being or relief in his jaw and he says yes and I ask him when he’s felt like this. He says in high school when he felt like his opinion counted and he was listened to. He tells me that having his opinion valued even though he didn’t have a BA was a big deal. I ask him to let the memory soak in and anchor it.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

superego vs. ego ideal in ego psychology

While Klein followed Freud into extending the superego back into the earliest levels of development, the ego psychologists held firmly to the superego as the outcome of the phallic-oedipus complex. For the most part, the latter only have a ideological grounding for this position in the idea that the child must have enough language and intellect in order to be conscious of, and then choose principles or values. The mistake of course, is that they enshrine the rational chooser concept as if people really studied different religions and ethical systems and have logical arguments for their positions. 

T    The good ego psychologists, usually the women, such as Annie Reich, at least try to give examples of how they see the superego vs. the pre-phallic-oedipal ego ideal at work.

The obvious issue here is that she clearly working with a passive-altruistic man. Instead of seeing this altruism as part of his psychic bisexuality and a relation to the imago with repetitions in current parental-substitutes, she simply indicates that his "high moral standards" evidence a superego. However, his altruistic helping, and inhibition of being in the spotlight, aren't given any intellectual framework and are combined with anxiety and repetition issues that show the relation to imagos.

A. Reich does point to a "complicated" superego, but as one of the few examples of a superego in contrast to the ego ideal, this example only shows how under conceptualized the masochistic/echoistic/altruistic or passive side of the personality was in ego psychology. Passive was often just lazy, dependent, etc. and the energetic or goal oriented aspect of the passive side was seen as the ethical dimension of the rational chooser....



Reich, A. (1954). Early Identifications as Archaic Elements in the Superego.


The first case is that of a bright and talented young man who came for treatment because of phobic and conversion-hysteric symptoms.... 
At this point features of a strong paternal superego developed, which will be described later. These enabled him to enter a rather normal latency period, characterized by good functioning in school and the development of rich intellectual sublimations.
With the resumption of masturbation in adolescence, the hypochondria, the guilt feeling, the sexual and by this time also social inhibition grew and interfered more and more with his life; until finally, confronted with the demands of adult sexuality and adult masculine mastery of life, he broke down. He was a brilliant student; but after graduating summa cum laude from Harvard, he became overwhelmed by a feeling of hopeless inferiority and worthlessness. For a period of several years, instead of entering a profession or otherwise preparing a life for himself, he "loaded" on the living-room couch in the parental home, reading voraciously and masturbating abundantly. When he finally began to work, in a field connected with creative artistic production, he could do it only under a very special condition: he had to work anonymously, hardly making a living, acting as a ghost writer for various well-known and recognized friends who gathered laurels and money via his secret production. It was only after a number of years of analysis that he could come into his own.
The meaning of this behavior became clear in analysis. As a boy he had been intensely interested in his father's profession, full of curiosity, reading the father's medical journals at an incredibly early age, obviously eager to step into his shoes and to outdo him. That in his early childhood the father's medical activities were understood as completely sexualized, has already been indicated. But when urged by his family to study medicine, he could not do it, choosing, instead, the sideline of the father who as a hobby interested himself in the arts and acted as a patron to a group of struggling artists. Reduced to following this sidetrack, the patient developed considerable talents and made extremely high demands on himself in regard to the level and perfection of his production. However, even this substitute had to be pursued furtively; he had to leave the rewards to a father figure. It was as if he could identify with the father in his brilliance, but success was reserved for the father. He was able to identify with him in relation to effort but not in relation to gratification.
After he began to work, his sex life, which thus far had been restricted to masturbation, also underwent an extension, although not without disturbances. He now could approach girls, but only under special conditions. That is to say, when they were in need of comfort, help, love, he was able to please them—even with his penis. He would then be their rescuer and support; he made love purely "altruistically." His erective potency was good. It was very important to give the woman an orgasm, but he himself had no sensations whatsoever. To quote his own description of the situation, he had to be "a knight on a white horse, who used his lance only to protect helpless women." Here again, as we can see, he is identified with his father, but in a negative way. The father, in the child's view, had lacerated women with his penis-scalpel.
This by no means complete description of the patient's symptomatology and behavior permits us some insight into his personality and superego  structure.
The superego of the patient was a complex  structure. Predominant was an identification with a strict and punishing father who did not tolerate the son's sexual or aggressive transgressions. From the fifth year on and until the analysis, there existed an intense guilt feeling which came to a peak during the period of "loafing." He felt that he was "a monster, " "a goilem, " "had a rotten core, " "was in constant danger of a breakdown of moral values." This last phrase, of course, was an adult way of expressing his concern that warded-off (incestuous) sexual impulses might break through. The "rotten core" came from having eaten something bad, which expressed a sexual wish and the guilt reaction against it, clad in pregenital  language. The "goilem" and the "monster" represented the danger of breaking out with uncontrolled, sadistic, sexual impulses. At the same time they indicated a feeling of already having been punished for incestuous crime by castration, and of being found out.

This identification with the strict father expressed itself in his high moral standards.
The negative side of his father  identification has been mentioned already: where real gratifications are involved, he was forced to resign. Sexuality, success and money are reserved for the father. While the father was sadistic, the patient was good. There-by he not only warded off the forbidden identification with the sexual father, but he also outdid him. He expected to be preferred by the mother—by women—for his goodness, in competition with the father. But at the same time the knight on the white horse, who used his lance only for healing purposes, is by no means a completely masculine figure: he also wanted to act as a protective, loving mother equipped with magic powers, who, when the child has hurt himself, kisses and blows the pain away. The second meaning of this feature of the ideal had become richer in content and detail in the course of time. Already in adolescence there were fantasies about having a house of his own, furnished in the most exquisite taste, in which he as a bachelor received guests for elaborate meals cooked by himself. He wished to surpass the mother's more simple tastes in her own field. To be the one who gives and feeds in the most refined way became most desirable. From the direct oral field, this fantasy expanded to many others. He wanted to be the one who guided and advised everybody else. He succeeded in creating a large circle of friends. His efforts in their behalf grew into a twenty-four-hour job. He tried to become their "therapist, " to give them money, to advise them in love affairs, to provide jobs, find apartments, arrange trips, procure unobtainable theater tickets, to offer the most important ideas for their creative work, and so on. Here again, as in his work as a ghost writer unknown to the world, he was the creator of other people's fame and happiness. With this behavior he lived up to an idealof an omniscient, all-powerful, all-giving mother. Thus the negative father  identification coincided with this very special form of mother  identification. He was identifying here with the loving, protecting mother whose main interest in life was the family's food, health and happiness. Although the father was the physician, it was she who doctored the children when they were sick, who was the helper, while the father was seen as the sadist. This image of the mother contrasted sharply with the one underlying the patient's hysterical symptoms in which he identified with the sexual mother, i.e., with a suffering, mistreated, sick and pregnant one.
The image of the protecting and giving mother originated before he became involved in his oedipal, sadomasochistic fantasies. Oral and anal patterns, feeding and giving, seemed to predominate. In the foreground was the relationship to the child, for whom she could do anything. In view of the long history of oral strivings toward the mother this pregenital colorization of the early image was not surprising.
Most striking in this ideal were the megalomanic traits. The patient felt himself to be omniscient and omnipotent—in the interest of others. Whatever anxieties and feelings of inferiority plagued him, via this identification, they were undone. His behavior and character pattern had been formed after this ideal. Though to a large degree able to live up to the inner demand, he obviously was not really in a position to accomplish all of these fine tasks. Very gratified for a time to be a member of a large organization that placed all kinds of technical and other facilities at his disposal (e.g., a private telephone line with Washington, etc.), he felt the powers of this organization to be his own. However, this feeling of being all-powerful was not confined to such realistic situations. Separated from the support of the organization, he soon developed the same feeling of omnipotence which now surpassed by far his real possibilities of accomplishment.
On the other hand, the conditions for the development of this feeling could be studied during periods of utter helplessness that occurred after separation from his mother. For instance, when after years of clinging to the mother he finally married and moved away from the family home, he felt angry with the mother and the analyst because they did not help to furnish his new home, to find domestic help, to locate a cleaner and a laundry. It was as though without the mother he could neither feed himself nor keep himself clean. Shortly thereafter, he again took over. His home became the center of his circle, and he felt once more as though he were running a private social agency. The process is obvious: after the loss of the object, which was seen in a predominantly pregenital light, he identified with it, and with this identification the helplessness changed into grandiosity.
In this grandiosity—and this is really my point in presenting this lengthy case history—the otherwise very well-developed faculty of the patient for reality testing and self-evaluation gave way. We are here faced with the narcissistic core of the superego; here his infantile feeling of omnipotence was preserved or, better still, revived. However, and we shall also find this to be true in the second case I intend to describe, a certain fluidity of the megalomanic feeling was present. What at times was an inner conviction of his own greatness, became at other times an inner demand, and the differentiation between ego and ego ideal were re-established. Thus the megalomanic feeling was transitory. It was contradicted here not only by the ego, that is by the reappearing sense of reality, but by other parts of his superego which, for instance, caused him to see himself as a "goilem."
Such conflicts within the superego are by no means unusual. It has been mentioned before that the superego is a composition of various elements of identifications. Normally a fusion takes place between these various elements. The failure completely to achieve such a fusion facilitates the changes between megalomanic and deeply self-critical moods.
One could ask here why this identification is considered an ego ideal. Indeed, to a large degree we are dealing with an ego identification. He actually behaved toward his friends as his mother behaved toward him when he was a young child. To this identification, however, an element was added which was not reality-syntonic; namely, the omnipotence which is ascribed to the mother. This early image of the all-powerful, pregenital and pre-oedipal mother was used to counteract the terrifying later image of the sick, suffering, pregnant mother with whom, as his symptoms proved, he was also identified. When he thus could no longer feel as a man, he could at least identify with the powerful mother of early childhood and thereby counterbalance his identification with the castrated one. To serve this defensive need the mother was idealized, and very early images of her were used for the purpose.
These very early images of the mother appear to belong to periods of ego immaturity in which clear reality testing and an objective awareness of what the mother really was or did were not yet possible. Furthermore, the child cannot yet clearly differentiate between himself and the object. Frustrations may easily be undone by giving up the awareness of separation from an object and becoming again one with the object. The patient in his longing to identify with the idealized mother, could not realistically become like her; i.e., become identified with her in his ego and become as grandiose as he sees her. This must remain a narcissistic desire, an ego ideal. The faculty to evaluate himself realistically and to know that he wanted to be like this ideal, but that he could not be like it, could easily be abandoned. Magically he could become one with this ideal. He was prone to regress temporarily into those phases where the mere wish already stood for fulfillment. Such periods became noticeable in his behaviorwhen he indulged in bragging and exaggeration about his power and accomplishments. On the other hand, this regressive, megalomanic pattern appeared only as an admixture to his otherwise reality-syntonic mother  identification. It appears that the traces of megalomania in the normal superego are based on the regressive revival of the mechanism of flowing together with an idealized object. It is likely that the clinging to such an ego ideal is mostly motivated by defensive needs.
The fluidity of the differentiation between ego and ideal, the easy revival of the mechanism of undoing the separation between self and powerful object, the loss of ability to distinguish wish from fulfillment, the temporary disintegration of reality testing, are the decisive characteristics of these primitive structures which I would prefer to call narcissistic "ego ideals" in contrast to the normal superego. When in pathologic states, as for instance in manic triumph, a dissolution of the superego occurs, we may speak of a regression of the superego into more primitive ego ideals.  (pps. 224-232)