Sunday, August 31, 2014

instinctual phantasy, extra-transferrential analyss, psychosexual psychosocial parallelism

I haven't started out with a belief in penis envy or the oedipus complex. Instead, I've studied Freud as a psychologist who is interested in motivations (wishes)  and have attempted to sketch out the economics of libido from psychic bisexuality to pscychosocial development. Along the way in my clinical practice I have encountered penis envy, fear of castration, dreams in which associations lead to the parents and which manifestly have sexual activity taking place, etc.

I still don't know the merit in analyzing these things when they occur... by analyze I mean to fully develop the phantasy. If penis envy is there and the woman protests that she never chose to be a girl then the question arises of who chose for her...

It is something that I plan to pay much closer attention to. It's possible that analyzing this fantasy might allow for the person to re-fuse with the father imago, for example, or deepen the defused transference to the analyst. However, it could also be that these phantasies are a parallel process going on and aren't important. The psychological wound (in defusion) is what is important to deal with and the doctor for example is not going to try to do any work on the blood that is escaping but close the wound.

I've discussed the "parallelism" between the ego and object drives many times. Most of the time I use object drive material to analyze ego drive problems:

With one patient a session began with her interest in being part of a threesome. This was analyzed and it led to a recent situation in which she remembered her interest to join a friend's intimacy with her boyfriend and strong anxiety of how her friend would be angry and disapprove if she made a move. As just a phantasy alone, the woman of the couple was much more central and the patient felt like she was having boring sex with the man and that by introducing herself into the situation she would "spice up" things.

Her fantasy also entailed that she would be given commands in the encounter and told what to perform on the couple. This led to a discussion about not having a will of her own or her feeling like she didn't want to exist. I believed that I could have went from fantasy here to instinctual phantasy by exploring this feeling and its relation to her association of feeling like she didn't want to exist when she was on occasion depressed in her bed at night. However, I left it to followed a preferred route...

As the session went on my patient continued to complain about a work situation that was tedious and in which people weren't receptive to he ideas. She felt like work was the drudgery of carrying out uninspired ideas and that there wasn't any excitement.

I interpreted that, just as entering the menage a trois would "spice up" the sex-life of her "beautiful" friend that she could spice up work with her ideas and save the authorities there from being boring. She responded with "they are killing me" and expressed the frustration of wanting to give and wanting approval but finding no authorities willing to do so.

This I see and feel to be liberating. It's progressive communication instead of the same complaining. It's an insight into her character and what she needs. It's also a chance for the defusion and transference that is directed to her "bosses" to be transferred onto me.

Should I have waited for many, many more sessions until these things were brought into the transference to me on their own? What would this have done? I would have wasted much more time and her money for her to be able to tell me "You are killing me" instead of her saying "they are killing me".  


Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Odyssey- Polyphemus and Circe + loose ends

I've noticed a problem with the analysis of the Odyssey. The proto and deutero phases have been recorded differently from the nuclear complex phase. For example, in the volar stage with Polyphemus there are two stages with the threat of being swallowed/eaten looming in both along with more specific forms of anxiety relating to being trapped (proto) and the hand (deutero). However, this is different from the wind that becomes important in the following story.

This raises some questions about the wind as representing some form of aggression/affection. 

I've mentioned the story of the Three Little Pigs where the wolf first "huffs and puffs and blows the house down" to be followed by the anxiety of being eaten.

Another parallel comes from the sphinx who as both woman and lion (father imago) could also be a symbol of the two parents together. However, what does it mean that Oedipus first kills his father before defeating the sphinx? Also, from some of my patients its clear that the house also represents the father imago alone in the possession of the volar oedipal mother and not the two parents together in the fused ego ideal... 

So, although power is transcribed from the mother to the father, so that the father becomes the devourer or the castrator, the establishment of the ego ideal also means that the father as possessor of the mother (the representation of the two imagos together) might still be retained in defusion but as just the representation of the father imago alone... 



Back in the initial analysis of the proto-anal I observed both the voice and claws as salient objects. I went against clinical experience in which it has been solely females who have brought up dreams of clawing others and who have had self-clawing in the form of cutting themselves. I guess I was thinking of wolverine and his claws, banshees and their terrible voice, and in short, I made a leap that hasn't held up. The voice is definitely important with males and in many superhero movies I've noticed that when the big monster shows up that they often use a very low bass sound. Also Zeus is aligned with thunder and in demonstrations of male power in the Mehinaku the men make 'bull-roarers' that they swing in the air and which make a sound comparable to an airplane landing. 

So, I think the voice is a masculine object and the claws are a feminine object with the standard active and passive dimensions that relate to subject egoist- object altruist and subject altruist- object egoist. Clawing the self is subject altruist and follows the parallel of the destruction of Antigone's marriage while clawing the other is object egoist and follows the parallel of Electra (Orestes) killing the married couple. 

At the volar deutero I've established the hand as the psychosexual object for the masculine but I can't remember if I've mentioned before that I've determined that the deutero object for the feminine is the eye:

"'My good ram, what is it that makes you the last to leave my cave
this morning? You are not wont to let the ewes go before you, but
lead the mob with a run whether to flowery mead or bubbling fountain,
and are the first to come home again at night; but now you lag last
of all. Is it because you know your master has lost his eye, and are
sorry because that wicked Noman and his horrid crew have got him down
in his drink and blinded him? But I will have his life yet. If you
could understand and talk, you would tell me where the wretch is hiding,
and I would dash his brains upon the ground till they flew all over
the cave. I should thus have some satisfaction for the harm a this
no-good Noman has done me.

It's clear that with psychic powers that the eye or third eye is is a symbol. Besides reading minds there is also the 'evil eye' as well as the hypnotist taking over one's mind through his piercing eyes (with a shiny object sometimes being used instead). In The Piano Ada claims the power to read minds or put thoughts in them and in Tausk's Influencing machine sometimes it is a person who is controlling one's mind instead of a thing or transitional object. There is also the phantasy of one being created by a mad scientist who represents both the phallic oedipal father in this creation (transcribed from the phallic mother) and to the extent that he also controls one's mind it would also denote the volar deutero. So, again active (object egoist) controlling minds of others (or implanting thoughts) and passive (subject altruist) and having one's mind controlled. 

The anal deutero also has a feminine object in the heart.

"When Circe saw me sitting there without eating, and in great grief,
she came to me and said, 'Ulysses, why do you sit like that as though
you were dumb, gnawing at your own heart, and refusing both meat and
drink? Is it that you are still suspicious? You ought not to be, for 
I have already sworn solemnly that I will not hurt you.

The heart being eaten is also a symbol in the story of Persephone. The red pomegranate she eats results in her having to stay in the realm of Hades and nicely ties in with the previous post on scopophilia being tied to the incorporation of death into the altruist so that she can't act for herself but must vicariously enjoy through others (as opposed to the high ego ideal of being driven to assist them). The object egoist would therefore act to make the other "eat her heart out" while the altruist loses her own heart. In some altruistic patients who have I think have had anal deutero fixations, problems in their love relationships seem to be tied to anxiety, 'broken heartedness' as feeling the anxiety in their chests, and a strong relation to their former beloved. 

The last thing I want to say in this post is that in the anal Electra complex beheading is important. Electra's mother is beheaded, the representation of the anal father having a collection of heads in several stories (Blue Beard, The Walking Dead, etc.) points to a parallel with the father as the possessor of penises who can give them out. Both were salient in The Piano and I'll have to think through how they relate to the anal deutero vs. the anal nuclear complexes now that both are seeming to overlap more.    

Friday, August 15, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy pt 1.

I saw Guardians last night. I have to say that I enjoyed myself and, more than that, there were a few scenes I thought were very beautiful. It's rare that this happens with computerized special effects for me.

The epic quality of the film also lends itself very well to a psychoanalytic study of ontology and psychic bisexuality.

The main character Peter Quill or Star Lord is easily identifiable as an object altruist. He's not the straightforward tough or intelligent subject egoist who competes with the villain. He's definitely talented but his character emphasizes causing delight and he is charmingly roguish. He isn't seeking to be admired or get into positions of power and neither is his life based upon exercising his will. He impulsively makes decisions and part of the films humor is that he is a a philanderer, not going after real conquests but, instead, has slept with some strange space aliens.

He's also definitely phallic-deutero or phallic echoisitic. This is seen in his relationship to Yondu who is his father-substitute. Yondu is a criminal and in Peter's bellerophon complex he tries to be a better criminal than Yondu and betrays him by cutting him out of the heist. However, Yondu is shown to be fond of Peter and isn't a distant fully idealized parental imago. Just as Peter's mother made him mix tapes and had a close relationship to him, this is transcribed over to the father-substitute who similarly sees him as special. This bellerophon complex is also seen in the movie Candyman where the main character is seeking to find a urban legend that will make her more famous than her husband who is a professor who also studies them.

As with Star Wars, all the different levels of Being have some shared elements. So, Yondu has a magical knife that can fly on its own, just as Darth Vader has use of 'the force'. The key element at the phallic stage is the father, as procreator, who one's name is attached to and who one owes one's life to. This was actually experienced with the phallic mother, but, as mentioned, is transcribed over to the father.

There doesn't seem to be an anal nuclear complex. At least in terms of seeking to rule or be the most powerful in relation to social hierarchy. Instead the Galaxy is ruled by a collective. No one is in competition to rule the galaxy but instead it is threatened by annihilation. This means that the anal trito or urethral stage has been reached. John C Reily's character appears as the anal trito imago. He's seen as a peer, again, instead of a ruler above one, and he's able to help bring the military to help stop Ronan from destroying the planet.

Rocket is a good example of a fixation at the urethral father complex. He is very testy and after being referred to as small, a pet, a rodent, etc. by his peers he gets so angry he wants to kill them. Because it is from peers I think it refers to the father complex, and like the myth of prometheus, Rocket is also a skilled inventor.

Drax the destroyer is defined by having a vendetta against Ronan, the central villain, for killing his family. This is definitely phallic level stuff and Drax is definitely a subject egoist who is defined mainly by his potency, skill, and will. However, in his fight with Ronan, the latter seems so much more powerful and impervious to his strength that it appears like an anal castration complex of the proto form. Drax is thrown to the ground many times and it reminded me of Circe turning Odysseus' men to pigs or animals forced to be on the ground, and Hephaestus being thrown from Olympus. As I mentioned in that post, it's a normal trope to have the strong villain toss the heros around like rag dolls initially, or have supernatural powers that blast them or send a shockwave that knocks them down.  

Ronan, the central villain, wants to destroy a planet which, as an act, points to the auto-erotic castration complex, just as the death star does in Star Wars. Both are set in space and the castration complex here also relates to a rivalry with the world as it is or was. Space and rivaling our world for  whole new worlds that the artist creates are the important content here. However, Ronan outside of this act, which is really the work of the 'infinity stone'  that he got his hands on, is established in a volar ontology. He has minions but, again, his interest isn't to rule. He is a power outside of social hierarchy that is a bad aspect of the father. Additionally, he is immortal and outside of time along with other supernatural powers.

In the symptom reading both Ronan and Thanos are doubles of the relationship between Peter and Yondu. Ronan double crosses Thanos just as Peter does so to Yondu. This helps establish an important volar aspect to Peter's character. One of the touching parts of the movie is that everyone is a loner and doesn't have friends (save for Rocket and Groot) and this loner aspect is established in the Volar deutero when the first connection with the object as a whole object is diminished (a low ego ideal) and need for connection with others (whether competitive or restorative) is diminished or all the following stages. Also the 'primary narcissism' of the volar castration complex means a grandiosity that isn't attached to social hierarchy. While the anal and phallic castration complexes mean that the person strives to become or be regarded as superior to father-substitutes in positions of prestige, at the volar stage the person doesn't strive in relation to social hierarchy. Although, there is a sense of wanting to make an impression on every other that one encounters.

There also seems to be a volar trito anxiety situation  referenced by Yondu when he says that he stopped his crew from eating Peter. Again, because its being eaten by peers and not someone of more power it references the trito stage and I mentioned it in a post on the Odyssey. I'd have to go back and look at the plot to establish what that would correspond to with certainty, but for the moment I think that the characters of Groot and Rocket corresponds to the volar trito level very well (at the castration complex level, Peter's complete lack of fear and rashness that also references the rivalrly with time, and the many magical powers that appear in the movie). The general appearance of animals, trees, and alien creatures who interact like humans seems to be part of the volar trito. In the post on the Odyssey I mentioned that "shape-shifting" is referenced and I believe it points to a strong mimetic sense with both things and other people. Great actors can sometimes change their whole sensibility in a movie and often animals, trees, and things in general can convey a sensibility which no doubt is based upon us projecting our human sensibilities on to them. At the same time, the volar trito for the egoist relates to transitional objects. The ring in The Lord of the Rings, the piano in The Piano, and the mix-tape and the infinity stone in this movie.

I don't have time to finish this off but, I'll return to this and mention more of the psychic bisexuality of the other main characters.  


Sunday, August 10, 2014

scopophilia notes

"a child who is looking for libidinous purposes...wants to look at an object in order to 'feel along with him'" Fenichel- Psychoanalytic Theory of Neuroses 

Exhibitionism and scopophilia are supposed to be opposites that also fall along the active/passive binary. 

I've written on negative scopophilia in egoistic patients who seem to be fixated on rivals who they imagine to be experiencing much satisfaction when they win some success or the egoist makes a mistake. However, I don't think I've written too much on scopophilia in the altruist. 

There has been a vein that's been worked by several prominent analysts. Winnicott has talked about doing vs. being, Michael Eigen has distinction vs. unity, and Wilhelm Reich has the mystical schizoid who can perceive deep psychodynamic processes "although only as through a mirror".

In my work I have tried to keep the passive-altruistic as something separate and not just a reaction formation to the active-egoistic. This isn't from some a priori postulate but because the reaction formations I have seen in egoists have always been noticeable as such. 

I've postulated that the deep object of altruism in the not-finite encounter with the death of the other (as opposed to the not-finite object of perfection for the egoist). I've also discussed how these imagos intermingle so that the loss of perfection of the object becomes important for the altruist and the death of the self becomes important for the egoist. 

Lately I've been thinking that scopophilia seems to reference the incorporation of death into the altruist. 

Many altruists have a pet, a person, or a world-view that they offer up in social interactions as something to talk about instead of themselves. Sessions are filled with one patient talking about her son's problems instead of her own, another person takes their dog for a walk and talks about her dog's life (likes, dislikes, and adventures) and never gets personal, another person brings up Christ's importance and uses it to connect to others. Sometimes it has the flavor of devotion to these objects and sometimes its more along the lines of enthusiasm and the delight that the objects bring. 

In a basic way these people seem to be outside of life and social interactions themselves and therefore functionally dead. In the loss of these objects the vicarious enjoyment and connection to the world or social body becomes lifeless, dark, or empty (if not outright anxiety inducing).   

If the deutero egoist has a low ego ideal because the mother denigrated the father and made the egoist feel like he or she has some of the father's perfection then it makes sense to see the mother has made herself an object of scopophilic identification with the altruist. 

As far as depersonalization of the imagos goes there can be a deutero or 'echoistic' stage at all the levels of development so that at the altruist can feel like a 'fly on the wall' in social gatherings and 'people watch' in a very general way. Every other seems to have more life than him or her and their individuality or sensibility is something that they try to glean. At the higher levels the successes or romantic life of the object is something that excites or is important to know about. 

This engagement of looking, or seeking to hear about, seems like a good contrast to the high ego ideal of altruism in which actively assisting or helping drives the person. This would still link to the altruist drawing some power from the reduced father imago by wanting to foster or guide others. 

However, as I write this I must admit confusion. Some of the people I have in mind don't have the deutero quality of fostering others but still have their scopophilic objects... maybe the ego function of empathy is a better way to differentiate them. Maybe the deutero stage represents a closer relation to the object so that greater understanding of its feelings or 'mind-reading' is stronger than in the proto stage in which the idealization of the object and the drive are stronger without having a great understanding of what is going on internally...

Also, the proto, deutero, nuclear complex, trito phase model I'm using may eventually have to be discarded if my clinical experience points to something more complicated. But, for the moment, it's offering the most sophisticated model for plotting the characterological differences and correlating them to the parental imagos and relevant id drives.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

summer song

I somehow missed this song from a couple years back.

It has a beautiful volar ontology. Tensions between being alone vs. sameness (whatever is done for me will be done for you), wishes to be watched or be important to some magical, stronger person who the artist doesn't know, and, my last thought, is to reaffirm that bones must be an important psychosexual object.

I've had many patients reference their bones. I've had the intuition that some dissociation relates to energy moving to the bones which makes the skeleton such a salient representation of death. During somatic work these patients often get cold and feel like they've pulled away from their bodies and the transitional place of entry/departure seems to be the bones...I feel it in my bones... chilled to the bone


I'm lost in the light
I pray for the night
To take me, to take you too
After so many words
Still nothing's heard
Don't know what we should do
So if someone can see me now, let them see you

It was my greatest thrill
But we just stood still
You let me hold your hand 'til I had my fill
Even countin' sheep
Don't help me sleep
I just toss and turn right there beside you
So if someone could help me now, they'd help you too.

They'd help you too
See you through
All the hard things we've all gotta do
Cause this life is long
And so you wouldn't be wrong
Bein' free leavin' me on my own!

And I held my own
Still I rattled your bones
I said some awful things and I take them back
If we would try again
Just remember when
Before we were lovers, I swear we were friends
So if someone could see me now let them see you
Let them see you
See you through
All the hard things we've all gotta do
Cause this life is long
So you wouldn't be wrong
Bein' free here with me on my own!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

phallic, anal, and volar ontology in two relations

From the relationships of patients different levels of jealousy are distinctly visible in egoism:

1.phallic jealousy concerning someone of superior class, skill, intelligence, beauty

2.anal jealousy concerning other men in general

3. volar jealousy concerning other people in general and even pets

I've written before that the difference between the sexes is already established at the anal stage and concerns general comportment and is further modified at the phallic stage to go beyond embodiment and relate to practices.

The volar ontology, which concerns the encounter with otherness in general, indicates a maximum of jealousy in which I've seen patients fully engulfed in their relationship so that they can only belong to their partner who receives a transference that makes him or her 'larger than life' or magical. I've added the remark about pets because of patients who reported that even doting on an animal is a cause for jealousy in their partners.

In regard to social anxiety, as opposed to conscience, in egoism:

1. phallic fear of having one's reputation ruined which is often represented by father-substitutes in one's work and community life

2. anal fear of legality and breaking the law that will remove one from civilization. Father-substitutes are often represented by the police

3. volar fear of being monstrous with father-substitutes being represented by what is "natural" and "pure" or what is "holy" channeled through a person or a sacred spot

At the phallic stage social anxiety is paired with cultural values. However, these values aren't internalized in a guilt conscience but just concern what is acceptable in society (which will be different in different classes in a particular culture).

At the anal stage basic destructive impulses like killing and robbing are paired with social anxiety and the institution of the law and the threat of being removed from civilization. Today this would mean jail and historically we can see another example in being banished from the civilized city-state to have to live among the "barbarians"). Although the basic destructive impulses are the bedrock of this relation to the father-substitutes and are derived from imago relations, other linguistically mediated prohibitions can be drawn into this relation and be involved in anal social anxiety.

At the volar stage cannibalism seems to be the prototype of the monstrous and clearly has drive/imago based origins. As I've discussed in previous posts the volar stage has both father-substitutes as magical figures such as ghosts of ancestors, angels, and other figures that go beyond the natural but the home and certain spaces like certain rivers, parts of the forest, and other "sacred spaces" often carry a similar power that threatens the monstrous.

I've often had patients, who like vampires, seem to need to avoid the light or feel cut off from the sky and the light but I think this is probably a more primitive relation (i.e. auto-erotic) and seems to be connected with the opposition of the mind and body established there. At this level it seems like social anxiety would reach the proportions of annihilating all life (Klein's 'maximal sadism'), or some such impulse, but I'll have to investigate what represents social anxiety here...

The trito stages also have externalized representations of bad conscience although it is internalized. Light, for example, could be part of the auto-erotic trito... but only more examinations of myths and art and work with patients will give the answers.



Sunday, August 3, 2014

a little more clinical detail

Someone asked for an example of how I might be more active with a less regressed patient.

I wrote this out a little while ago and shared it on Michael Eigen's group.

We are talking about her parents and how her mother is a workaholic and doesn't seem to care that her post-heart-attack father is killing himself by smoking, working too much, and generally not changing his lifestyle.

She's formulating that her mother is is afraid to see it and deal with it. I ask her how it feels to say 'my mom is too weak to deal with it'

she says it, hesitates, and says she's not sure and begins to complain about her physical symptoms of back ache and headache. She talks about it and says that she feels like she is being crushed.

I ask her to picture a scene of someone or thing crushing another person or thing. She pictures a giant foot that comes down on her and crushes her into the ground.

I ask her to describe the foot and she says she hates feet and it's disgusting, ugly, and smelly.

I ask her to turn these into I-statements and she identifies as feeling disgusting and then says that she's recently had acne and has felt fat and that she "hates her body"

I ask her if she would leave her body if she could and what that would look like.

She says that she would leave her body through her mouth and that she'd be up in the sky and in the sunlight feeling the light and feeing good.

I interpret that her soul would be free to be in the light but while still in her body she has to hide in her room in the darkness (she isolates a lot and had mentioned laying in bed in her room with the lights off). 

She goes on to say that her body is sick and stopping her from going forward and from "achieving what she can achieve" (She had previously talked about applying to med school but still hadn't finished the applications) 

I ask her how it feels if she says "I am stopping myself from going forward and I am stopping myself from achieving what I can achieve"

She says it feels true. She says that she hasn't been working hard enough and is not strong enough to do it and she gives up too easily.

I interpret that she won't try to do anything and therefore won't have to be aware that she can't achieve her goals and do things perfectly. (I have seen this patient for close to two years and her perfectionism has been something we've returned to constantly. As the opening content may indicate her phallic nuclear complexes (both active and passive) are gathering more energy as earlier fixations have been dealt with. However, her volar stage fixations are still very strong and when anything goes wrong in her life isolation is still her strongest defense.)   

She responds, "if it's not perfect then it's not worth it"

I ask her the last time she felt like she could have accomplished it. She said a few weeks ago before a big fight with her room-mate (in which he told her she was fat, ugly, would be a nobody, took forever to finish school, and everything he could say to hurt her)

She focuses on the bodily comments he made to her and I again challenge her that she is putting all that's bad about her into her body.

She says that she's "captured in it". Captured sounds significant so I ask her for her association.

She says that she thinks of prisoners captured in war.

I ask what the army does to the captured soldiers and she laughs and says that now she feels captured by me and she knows that I'm going to treat the soldiers like a part of her.

She feels trapped by my questions and I ask her what I want. She says I want her "secrets"
She said she would never tell them to anyone. I ask what I would think about her if she told me

She says I would feel sorry for he, look down on her, or pity her and she'd rather be hated than pitied.

I interpret that I'll look down on her and then crush her because that it what she deserves.

She laughs uncomfortably. silence. She says that she will never tell.

I interpret that she will continue to punish herself for her "secrets" and hide away in her room and blame everything on her body, rather than show me that her soul is disgusting.

She says that she can't tell me (because she's ashamed...)


she still didn't tell me this session. She said that she can only imagine someone evil seeing her and gloating. I asked her why she wouldn't let me care for her and she said that she can't believe that anyone cares. i interpreted that her father is killing himself and she can't care if he doesn't care, but it ended at a stalemate in which she can only expect evil, she identifies with evil and she feels that whatever is good in her is a weakness.