Wednesday, August 9, 2017

passive subject altruism and the primal scene

You don't want to change!

An important part of masochistic stuckness is a primal scene.

The subject altruist tried to help the phallic mother (substitute) and although he or she went to great distances the phallic mother wouldn't change. When they come into therapy, be careful that you don't put in too much effort to be practical with them. They've entered projective identification with the phallic mother and now want others to try with them but won't take help.

In a similar variation of the proto phase (instead of the deutero) the altruist will frustrate friends and intimates. They will be too busy with other things and the intimate will feel like the altruist is being selfish, like they want to be chosen but the altruist chooses another, and like they are being avoided.

In altruism there are such subtle little hurts that are passed on to others and its interesting to think about how many therapists coach others when so many of these interactions are repetitions from earlier ego injuries.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The hunchback - symbol of the masculine (SE & OA)

The symbol of the hunchback is masculine and shows up in two ways.

The OA version is the hunchbacked "servant." He is often described as "solemn," "absent" in affect or  aliveness, and there's some sense that "nothing more will ever be [for me]." He has accepted his lot in life as an outsider and beneath others.

The SE version is the hunchbacked old man. He is "just mean," "always angry," "he takes the toys of kids that end up on his side of the fence," "he holds a grudge," and "hates people before he even knows them."

In Golem, in the Lord of the Rings, there is a mixture of both. He address others formally and acts in a servile way, but at the same time, he sees them as bad objects, doesn't trust them, and has the wispy hair of the old man.

Patients that produce these symbols can re-internalize them through their back and shoulders and once they do, they can feel the anger or apathy that goes along with them and it can lead them back to events that have to be processed.

Friday, June 2, 2017

aggression block and affection block

Work in fantasying, active imagination, or in the mind's eye can sound like a game or ineffectual to some people. However, any action done in fantasying is equivalent in intention to acting in the real world. For those who don't understand that thinking is based upon action another indication of the seriousness of this approach is that some patients can't perform certain actions in fantasying. With an echoist, aggression can sometimes feel wrong or even impossible in fantasy. I believe I've posted about this before, but sometimes an animal or non-human must express the aggression the patient feels towards another person. In witnessing the non-human attack the object of anger or hatred the person feels a release.

This release gives expression to how echoistic empathy and idealization can be so strong that the patient is impotent, avoids conflict of any kind, and is psychologically Christ-like in terms of resisting others. The person is forced to only be able to forgive others for their trespasses or see aggression in the world or from loved ones as being caused by demons or spiritual forces that take over others.

For some narcissistic, or more precisely, primary narcissistic patients (the echoist above is primary echoistic too), affection is similarly blocked. Even though their family may represent others who are related to the self and therefore don't invoke the same anxiety which non-family does, they don't show affection to family. The family still registers as part of self, but there is a defusion which means that there's ambivalence. Such primary narcissists can also construct cute animals and non-humans that represent affection with which they can identify in order to bypass their affection block.

Monday, May 29, 2017

the good, dead object in object altruism and echoism in general

I've mentioned this before under the idea of "ghosting" in sexual relationships. Invariably, the people I have worked with who have ghosted others can always be coaxed into discussing/guessing how the people they have had sex with might feel about them disappearing. There is always the promise or lure of a relationship greater than sex that the ghosted person feels. Their hopes are raised and then dashed and sometimes there are thoughts about whether "the ghost" might have died or been hurt.

This also works with friendships, of course.


It's simplistic but between the ego drives (work) and the object drives (love) the synthesis is friendship. Just as the idea of happiness, beauty, and the good will be different, depending on one's economics of libido, so too will friendships bear this stamp. Some will lean more towards sharing pursuits and interests with friends, some will prize humor, some will have a friend who is their ideal, some will berate their friends and direct their own self-criticism upon them, some want friends who are exactly like them and have their tastes and traits, etc.


A patient can get into how they are flakey and make plans and break them or are always late. Often their friends are the ones that have to deal with this behavior the most.

As with ghosting, the person is an "exciting object." They are the "life of the party," make things fun, have jokes, humors, or creativity that amuses, inspires, or excites.  Of course the expression 'life of the party' invokes its opposite: this party is dead, it is boring, it is not stimulating...  

The ghost often thinks about it as "gift-giving." They have their ideas, their art or music, their jokes or wit, or something that they share with others and which they can also not share. They are in projective identification with the parental imago and you have to get them to speak through their friends raised hopes and disappointment in order to get to the relevant ego injuries and allow them to reverse this repetition.

One patient was able to speak about how her friends might see her flakiness. They want to be around her, but she is lame, she has good ideas and cuteness and they can't "use her" and enjoy these, they will feel let down. All these can be augmented to ego and object statements : "I want to be with you, but you are lame, I want to keep using you, and you're letting me down." She had two people that came to mind with this. One is more recent and the former was a love interest from a few years ago. However, it's likely that when the relations with these two are explored, that there will be a parental ego injury or "defusion" from earlier in life.

The "exciting" parental imago which the person assumed in PI is simply another version of "the good" from a different libidinal position.

Often subject altruist "gift-givers" who help and assist others can get burnt out, feel used, and depressed and they can also become flakey and let friends down.

The altruists/echoists can often come off as ecstatic, hyper, manic, animated, lively, spazzy, etc. but will then get to the point where they become "dead," empty, have nothing to give,


Mike Eigen's thought is as wide-ranging as the sky and his storm rolled into this area back in the 90s and he's still has lightning flashes of insight after the article Psychic Deadness.

THE SENSE OF BEING DEAD has become a popular clinical theme. More people than in the past seek help for feeling dead. Although feeling dead is a central complaint of many individuals, it is not clear where this deadness comes from, or what can be done about it.
There are many variations of psychic deadness. For some people, deadness does not consume much psychic space. It is a circumscribed counterpole or subtheme in a fuller, richer existence. It comes and goes or nags in the background. At times it becomes prepossessing, and one wonders (with a chill) what one would do if it swallowed existence, if it became all there was. One waits for it to fade and usually it does. It moves along with a variety of moods and states of being.
Some people have pockets of deadness that are relatively constant. They get used to living with areas of deadness. They wish they were more alive, that life offered more, but they make do with their portion. If life is decent enough, a bit of deadness is not too much to pay for satisfactions. One adapts to being less than one might be, to feeling less than one might feel. One talks oneself into imagining one is about as happy as one can be, as happy as one is going to be. One more or less succeeds in believing oneself, since one fears (rightly) that things could be worse.
For some people, the sense of deadness is pervasive. They describe themselves as zombies, the walking dead, empty and unable to feel. 

If the active person, with the deep object of perfection, can identify with the perfection of the parental imago to exhibit grandiosity, arrogance, and superiority, we also know that they often can feel inferiority in self-criticism, although this can often be externalized onto others (which is very common with 'dry drunks' in addiction). The passive pole, with the deep object of Death, follows similar suit. Following Eigen, we can have the aliveness, the gift-giving, the over abundance of energy, the ecstatic when the person becomes the parental imago. However, then these people move to the deadness and can't sustain the aliveness any more than the egoist can sustain his superiority or grandiosity. Then there is the further movement when this deadness is projected out. The person talks about the "deadness" of the city or country they live in and how it is so boring, or they talk about other people, ideas, or other aspects of life this way. They can also have general sadness about the state of the world, in the subject altruist variation, and project their deadness out as the coldness of the world and lack of care and lack of love in society, in other people, etc.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Perfection and Death: the good, dead object

"Only the good die young"

The parental imago of Death for the echoist is tied to a "good object." Good object is so general, because what is good is very different depending on one's libidinal position. However, for the subject altruist, it is the nurturing, pure, kind, and protective parental-substitute.

It can be an ego injury if the beloved good object dies or leaves, and also if the beloved good object doesn't give one the love or protection that one depends on.

In projective identification, the people who have assertiveness issues and problems saying no to others have become the good/dead parental imago. They imagine that saying no, or not giving to those in their life who ask for their help will result in those people being angry with them, thinking they are selfish, and not wanting to be close to them any more. Invariably, they experienced these feelings themselves with their parents or parental-substitutes in the past and defended against this injury with PI.

I can't back this up with clinical data yet, but it seems like the actual death or departure of the good parental imago is what leads to the mania that belongs to the subject altruist. Identification with literal  Death/departure seems to go with a compensatory overproduction of energy. Of course this state is also tied to a primitive imago due to its relation to bodily energy (as opposed to relations to others). This mania has powerful sense of merger with the environment and Death is also loss of the boundaries of self.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

foreheads and dissociated identities.

I wait for something to happen 3 times before I let myself get excited about formalizing a technique or a concept.

There are several I've had lately, but I'm saving them for some papers, and haven't put them up. Additionally, confidentiality is an issue. I will change names and details so people can't be identified, but if someone reads their vignette, they would know it was them. I wouldn't want a post to interfere with treatment.

Anyway, 3 times now, while getting into anger, a patient has felt tensions in his or her forehead and it hasn't increased or decreased, but just held. I ask them to imagine what something or someone would look like if he/she/it looked like their forehead felt (if it looked externally, like they feel internally), and 3 times it has been a male aggressor (and a fourth time I am not yet counting, it was a gargoyle). In each of these times the patient was able to describe in detail the angry look of the person who came out of their forehead and then afterwards they were able to feel the gestures, emotions, physiognomy, etc. map onto their own body and integrate the man (and gargoyle). In each of the cases it resulted in the erasure of their dissociated anger (which shows up when they are backed into a corner or need to protect someone). Otherwise they are echoists and "lovers and not fighters" and the anger in them is wild and not in harmony with their economics of libido.

I've had the thought that Athena from the head of Zeus is a reversal and that it is really Zeus coming from the head of Athena as it is with these patients.

While the forehead has held an aggressive, dissociated identity (even if used for protection), the chest is very common for holding representations of other people (children, other adults) that can be angry, sad, and have other feelings.

The importance of the chest is pushing me to look into respiratory and inhalation papers in classic psychoanalysis.

I can also say that the shoulders are an important zone and have often been key to mapping on the physiognomy of demons, hunchbacks, bats and other productions from patients.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Adler on belonging

Despite his strong advocacy for the aggressive drive and the will to power, that made Freud remark that he had “no place at all for love” in his theory, Adler does have some interesting passages on belonging and altruism ("the feeling of giving"). 

It is almost like Adler focusses on the ego drives (both active and passive) while Freud emphasized the object drives.

longing for belonging can easily be about longing for love in the romantic relationship

striving for perfection can easily be about being the sole possessor of the love object, as it is about possessing a good reputation in one's office, field, society, or history.
"Since true happiness is inseparable from the feeling of giving, it is clear that a social person is much closer to happiness than the isolated person striving for superiority. Individual Psychology has very clearly pointed out that everyone who is deeply unhappy, the neurotic and the desolate person stem from among those who were deprived in their younger years of being able to develop the feeling of community, the courage, the optimism, and the self-confidence that comes directly from the sense of belonging. This sense of belonging that cannot be denied anyone, against which there are no arguments, can only be won by being involved, by cooperating, and experiencing, and by being useful to others. Out of this emerges a lasting, genuine feeling of worthiness." (From "Individual Psychology," 1926).