Monday, February 23, 2015

3 types of imago

Every analyst has encountered the pre-genital patient whose partner very much resembles a parent. This isn't because the analyst has seen him or her but because the patient will tell you that others say this about the partner.

This is the personalized imago. Particulars of the parents from which the imagos are formed are sought in another.

In repetitions that have to do with a patient being attracted or trying to hold on to someone "out of their league," being with someone who below their potential, or with clear class differences or money being a factor , the 'differences between the generations' is illustrated.

This is the depersonalized imago. Measurements of the ego's value by the ego ideal and attempting to triumph over the low measurement or lower the measurement in self-effacement is evidenced.

With other patient there is a return to the actual parent. There isn't an explicit sexual relationship but often times the parent will say things like 'you don't need a boyfriend, you've got your dad' or there is a lot of passionate fighting between the child and parent.

This is the repersonalized imago. The parent takes on their old transference and instead of acting out the ego and object drives with them, the relationship seems to be satisfied in phantasy with only the hints of obscenity. This enmeshment seems to both help and hinder the patient.  

Sunday, February 22, 2015

American Sniper: Mustafa

I've been pondering this moment in American Sniper for a while...

It's hard to tell if Mustafa is Chris Kyle's double (trito equality with others) or a reduced (deutero) father-substitute.

On one hand, there's a scene in which Mustafa is shown with his family (wife and kid), he's the best sniper on the enemy side, and he's a legend in Iraq (like Kyle). There's definitely equivalence and this suggests that they are trito peers.

Additionally, after Kyle kills him he alerts the "insurgents" to their location and they come throning up in multitudes or swarming up which is related to the volar trito (as discussed through the Odyssey and the skin ego in a previous post).

On the other hand, in the scene in which Kyle kills him (on the youtube clip) we see an interaction that fits the volar deutero oedipus complex. This was discussed in relation to Aeolus in the Odyssey and the importance of the wind and being "blown away". The volar stage gets its name from the hands and feet (think Jesus' hands and feet being nailed to the cross). This was also explored through the Odyssey and earlier posts. In this scene the hand is what fires the gun and Mustafa is blown away.      
The script:

RANGER ONE (OS) (over mike) Doesn’t matter. Hold your fire. We got uglies right below us--

Chris repositions himself, FACING SOUTH-- he lowers his eye to glass, bleeding sweat, aiming toward Bagdad. CHRIS SCOPE POV (BOTH EYES VIEW) CROSS-HAIRS track to distant rooftops. Everything wobbles and fumes. Trash blows, fronds sway, curtains flap, mirage boils-- all gusting different directions. Almost by accident, he lands on an IMPOSSIBLY SMALL SHAPE. Person? A bag of trash? Or nothing at all. As small as a pepper-flake inside the radius of his scope.

CHRIS (OC) (into mike) I got something. 1900 yards out.

RANGER ONE (OS) You can’t even see that far out. Hold your fire. You’ll expose us all.

 He twitches and wobbles off-target by a city block. Tracking back he spots something in the street-- A GOAT. “D” (OS) He’s right, Legend. No fuckin bueno. CROSS-HAIRS on goat, measuring it between mil-reticals, calculating for distance, then tracking back to target.

CHRIS (OC) Correction. Target is 2100 yards out. “D” That’s over a mile. Impossible shot, even if there was zero wind. 118.

CHRIS (OC) (beat) It’s him.

ENEMY SNIPER HIDE THE SNIPER is covered in a black Hefty bag disguising his presentation, and identity. Ready to kill again.

CHRIS (OS) (CONT’D) (over radio) Fire base thunder, this is Charlie 2 Bravo. We have eyes on the target. Prepare immediate evac’. Over. “D” (OS) There’s no way you can confirm it’s him. ON CHRIS Trying to breathe it down, please god, breathe it down--

CHRIS (OS) Doesn’t matter, he has eyes on our guys.

RANGER ONE (OS) Quick Reaction Force is 20 minutes out. You will stand the fuck down-- “D” (OS) --you wanna get us dead--

Chris scoops dust off the floor and watches with his offeye, as it blows off his palm and plumes outward.


CHRIS’ SCOPE POV CROSS-HAIRS wobble on the dark shape a mile away.

CHRIS (OC) Aim small. Aim small. We zero-in on a small fold on that black bag.

SFX: A LOW FREQUENCY BUZZ escalates as concentration deepens. CLOSE ON SNIPER Face obscured, a PRAYER HISSES from his bearded mouth. CLOSE ON CHRIS 119.Both eyes open, a PRAYER WHISPERS across his lips.

 CHRIS (CONT’D) For Biggles. CLOSE ON SNIPER/CLOSE ON CHRIS SFX: Thump-thump....Thump-BAM! Chris fires first. The shot echoes across eternity. One, two, three seconds later. A red-mist paints the wind.

THE SNIPER tumbles off his platform and out of view.

CHRIS KYLE Tango down. The world rushing back in, he hears INSURGENTS below.

STREET BELOW FACTORY INSURGENTS point up at the building, yelling, rushing in-- ROOFTOP Chris bangs out onto the roof, joining the SIX MAN SQUAD.

RANGER ONE You just fucked us, Legend-- (screams into mike) We need Stryker and QRF units, ASAP.

CHRIS He was on our boys and I took him out. “D” What about us! You took us out too.

 RANGER ONE We are fucked like a football bat! SIDE VIEW (FACTORY) INSURGENTS clear the second floor, bounding toward--


As "the legend" Kyle goes beyond the anal Superlative of being the best in a social hierarchy and becomes singular and immortal.

I've mentioned before that in movies such as Highlander, we see the volar ontology. There are "immortals" who above humanity and when they encounter each other they fight because "there can be only one".

In the phallic deutero the egoist has to approximate the mother's phallic image and in doing so he places himself outside of competition with the father-substitute and brothers.

In the anal deutero the egoist has to approximate the position of authority or commanding and give others the impression he is more important, powerful or in charge than he is.

In the volar deutero the egoist has to approximate the sole possession of power. When another person appears who has the same deutero image then the deutero egoist must engage him so that he has the phallus.

I've described this process before as scopophilia appearing in egoism. Narcissistic patients have nemeses sometimes and they can become preoccupied with what their rival thinks or how he or she would gloat over them in victory. This operation seems related to the idea of envy in Kleinian thought.

We don't see the envy in this story, however, but it's there in the symptom reading...

The reason Kyle takes the shot is rationalized for getting justice for the death of his friend Biggles. If Biggles is the symptom character, however, then the aggrandizement of Kyle as "the legend" by Biggles would be expressed here through Kyle shooting Mustafa and putting everyone at risk for his own aggrandizement.

At this point I don't know what to make of the swarming insurgents...

It's possible to interpret Kyle as having both a deutero fixation and having formed a trito part to his character. Thus, in making the shot he might have gone against his trito conscience and the swarms can represent this.

It's possible that the swarms also just represent social anxiety. The symptom reading points to a vertical repression, like with BAINES and ADA in The Piano.  As Ada's causing desire and love to Stewart was linked to getting off on the castration anxiety of rape and then that of losing her angelic image when she's punished for masturbation, then Kyle's act can also be linked to this response.

altruist's anal primal scene

There isn't a full triangle as there is with Sin City 2, where Eva Green's character calls Josh Brolin's when she's having sex with the detective. However, Tim Burton's gaze is there to witness it as it's there to witness every scene. The Burton aesthetic that makes the setting of almost all of his movies dark, ominous, and with a permeable boundary between the human world and the supernatural one, is the gaze from which he is present.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Sin City 2 and the subject egoist's anal primal scene

There's music behind this but you can just mute it.

There are all the hallmarks of the anal primal scene: a denigrated father-substitute that the woman is with. In this case he is a servant and it's possible that his being black could have been meant as a denigration. The father-substitute is a bigger and physically intimidating man. Along with the anal oedipal castration anxiety of death, the anxiety that is peculiar to the maternal imago, and which is transcribed over to the father, is the fear of force and being thrown back. This appears in the myth of Hephaestus and was discussed in an earlier post. The object drive infatuation is strong, but it's also mixed with strong aggressive elements (i.e. he hits her, there's blood). Then, of course, the betrayal that comes from her, which comes after the actual father imago is killed (i.e. foreclosed) and the maternal imago gains horrifying strength.

egoistic masochism

For a few years now I've been advocating for the use of echoism instead of masochism as the complement to narcissism. This has been so that the word narcissism isn't as over-burdened as it is in psychoanalytic theory, but also because egoists have masochistic impulses, and echoists aren't seeking pain in their attempts to restore others or sow harmony. They idealize the other(s) and in relating to him, her, or them they may suffer but this isn't sought in itself.

In AA there are many egoists who have regained their ability to make promises and their self-respect through the acceptance of God.

For many narcissists it is hard to accept blame and they become defensive when others regard them as weak or immoral (not as their own guilt conscience but based upon what others think in social anxiety). When they are eventually broken down they have a hard time forgiving themselves for having wasted their potential or throwing away the great life they had before. In therapy they have to mourn this loss. However, they can also have a hard time forgiving themselves for loving others and when they are betrayed by romantic partner or a good friend they can self-revile a little about being naive or foolish. The loss of the object is what is important and deep, but there seems to be a stage of self-criticism before.

In AA egoistic masochism is seen in the doctrines that after you give up alcohol or drugs that you have to start giving up anything that is used as a crutch. People who are on psych meds are criticized and they see no difference between them and street drugs (even if they aren't a type that isn't sold on the streets).

One patient talked about how in accepting blame and 'badness' in his recovery, that he saw his soul as comprised of rooms. Before he had public rooms that were always cleaned and presentable but still had "that room" where he had his lies, his pornography, and his skeletons. His recovery was based upon having all the rooms cleaned. After he gave up the pornography and his drugs, however, he continued to find other things in that secret room and I don't believe there will be an end to it.

Another egoist becomes vegan, increase her exercise regimen, and needs to keep on "feeling the burn" after her body eventually gets accustomed to the last renunciation.

This makes me return to the myth of Oedipus. He is looking for the killer of his father against the warnings of Tiresias, and this seems like a powerful metaphor for the egoistic masochism. Like his officers looking through the state for the killer, my patient he is looking through the rooms of his soul for the evil that must be excised.

I've previously interpreted this as investigation for the killer as ego ideal tensions of phoney-ness or inferiority, but to add masochism nicely rounds out the picture.

Perhaps there should be both a sadistic and masochistic form of converting castration anxiety for every libidinal position...

There's the classic 'phallic-narcissistic' character who, in arrogance and criticizing father-substitutes, invites his own castration and loss of reputation. However, there is also a feeling of off-putting superiority in egoistic masochism which induces a desire to cut the person down to size.

Also, in the Antigone complex there is 'masochistic complaining' which induces the father-substitute to disapprove of the echoist. In Hermes, as the god of thieves, we have a reputation of the altruists who get secret sadistic revenge. By stealing, cheating on one's romantic partner, etc. without them knowing the altruist satisfies him or herself while courting the anxiety of severe disapproval which they get off on.In the Antigone myth there is both the focus on putting the image/reputation of her brother above her own interests but also that this act is forbidden and that she does it in secret.  

Also, I've also met some sharp tongued object altruists who can make very cruel remarks. Like the complainer, the sadism doesn't mean that the echoist feels like the father-substitute shouldn't be in charge or that he or she really questions his authority. There may be moments of feeling like this, but they also have tensions of conceit if it appears that they might be successful. Anyway, it is quite distinct phenomenologically from the phallic narcissism of the egoist whose criticisms are much more related to skills, knowledge, competence, etc.


Friday, February 20, 2015

auto-erotic body ego and the waking dream.

A patient suffers from an auto-immune problem and has been regularly for months. I was impressed with the way she had some splitting with her husband's mother who was seen as a horrible figure while her husband was idealized and would "fight off" her mother and her mother's partner for her. I asked her to associate to fighter and she said boxer. I asked her to imagine her body was a boxer fighting another boxer representing her virus or disease and to tell me how she'd describe her body. She said her body was "a sissy, a scared little girl". I asked her to use these as I-statement and  whether that described how she interacted with anyone. She said her mother-in-law and we went on to talk about the situations this arises in...

The body, the house when a patient spends a lot of time in it (or happens to bring it up enough), the possessions that the patient is hard on or cherishes... all of these contain little pieces of relationships with others if they are examined, associated to, described, and the self-other unit is explored in relation to a human relationship.

When working with many patients who don't have dreams, it becomes apparent that their life is often dream-like.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

some notes on Auto-erotism

                                            "Stranger Song" (Leonard Cohen)

It's true that all the men you knew were dealers
who said they were through with dealing
Every time you gave them shelter
I know that kind of man
It's hard to hold the hand of anyone
who is reaching for the sky just to surrender,
who is reaching for the sky just to surrender.
And then sweeping up the jokers that he left behind
you find he did not leave you very much
not even laughter
Like any dealer he was watching for the card
that is so high and wild
he'll never need to deal another
He was just some Joseph looking for a manger
He was just some Joseph looking for a manger 

Autoerotism is essentially a technique whereby the individual seeks not only to provide for himself what he cannot obtain from the object, but to provide for himself an object which he cannot obtain, p. 33 Fairbairn

I've written about phallic Prestige in one's community, the anal Superlative at the top of social hierarchies, and the volar immortals of Time. I've stayed mostly silent on how the will manifests in the auto-erotic stage, except for the indication that one can rival Space oneself in order to try to replace external space with inner space. The author may write a book, the artist may paint a picture, and the scientist may impose his mathematical schema onto the planets in order to explain their movements. All of these offer inner space as something to see over outer space.

Exhibitionistic trends always play a prominent part in the schizoid mentality; and, of course, they are closely related to the tendency to adopt roles. They may be largely unconscious; and they are often masked by anxiety. Even so, however, they emerge quite clearly in the course of analytical treatment; and the attraction of literary and artistic activities for individuals with a schizoid propensity is partly due to the fact that these activities provide an exhibitionistic means of expression without involving direct social contact. The significance of the exploitation of exhibitionism as a defence lies in the fact that it represents a technique for giving without giving, by means of a substitution of ‘showing’ for ‘giving’. This means of attempting to solve the problem of giving without losing is not without its attendant difficulties, however; for the anxiety originally attached to the act of giving is liable to become transferred to the act of showing,with the result that ‘showing off’ assumes the quality of ‘showing up’. When this happens, exhibitionistic situations may become extremely painful; and ‘being seen’ at all may then give rise to acute self-consciousness. (p. 16)     
While this may explain the will and egoism, it doesn't explain the relation to scopophilia and love. The participation mystique or oceanic oneness another may have with the world, or the intense desire to be outside of oneself as opposed to feelings of emptiness and exhaustion of the will. 

In the quote from Leonard Cohen above I think that a case can be made to see some types of addiction as auto-erotic pathology. There is a sense of finding some state of the full negation of oneself. In contrast, in Synechdoche, NY the protagonist ends up trying to recreate the world in art and in finding that perfection he burns out his will because such a task is an object he cannot obtain. In some types of addiction the complete merger of oneself is what cannot be obtained. Just as glimpses of the re-created perfection are there for the egoist, there are ecstatic moments of the loss of oneself for the altruist. 

Lastly, if we follow the feminine (OE and SA) libidinal positions then we have the SA with the multiple personality disorders, discussed in a previous post and Fairbairn's idea of the 'role playing' or 'as if' quality in the schizoid. The SA splits into alter egos she is not aware of in her unity of apperception, while the OE plays the alter ego: 

By playing a role or acting an adopted part, the schizoid individual is often able to express quite a lot of feeling and to make what appear to be quite impressive social contacts; but, in doing so, he is really giving nothing and losing nothing, because, since he is only playing a part, his own personality is not involved. Secretly he disowns the part which he is playing; and he thus seeks to preserve his own personality intact and immune from compromise. It should be added, however, that, whilst in some cases parts are played quite consciously, in other cases the individual is quite unconscious of the fact that he is playing a part and only comes to realize this in the course of analytical treatment. Conscious playing of a part may be illustrated in the case of a markedly schizoid young man who entered my consulting-room for the first consultation with a quotation from Freud upon his lips. He thus sought from the start to establish himself in my eyes as a devotee of psychoanalysis; but my immediate suspicion that he was only playing a part was fully confirmed as soon as analytical treatment commenced. His adopted role was really a defence against genuine emotional contact with me, and against genuine emotional giving. (p. 16)   

The alter ego represents the death of the SA since there is no consciousness of them in the main unity of apperception, and the alter ego represents perfection for the OE.

Friday, February 13, 2015

early levels of Being

As always, work with a patient has made me want to refine and sharpen my theories on social ontology.

Although I had previously erred on the side of making the volar stage the encounter with Otherness, it has been some time since I changed this.

The auto-erotic relation is to one's own body in phantasy. Patients have expressed phantasies of astral travelling or leaving their bodies to guard them when they sleep. However, when a person is in their body then the body has a relation to other bodies. This is the basic encounter with Otherness.

On the side of altruism, in auto-erotic defusion there are feelings of being less than real. Others in general appear more whole than you.

This brings to mind the ending of Being John Malkovich comes to mind in which the main character is trapped inside of John Malkovich's body but is just conscious of what the body sees and can't control the body at all. This also seems tied to the concept of a certain form of envy in which I've heard patients wish that they were someone else, but I doubt envy could arise so early and it must be in confluence with this from a later stage.

At the volar stage it's one's needs and this base relation to Others with their own needs. I've conceptualized this as the relation to humanity in general. Here the altruist can feel less than humanity and that his or her needs don't matter.

I can't remember if I've written that what is striking about tensions of conceit at this stage is that they even concern children (literally all of humanity). The volar altruist can't say no to anyone.

On the side of egoism I've been impressed by what appears to be the defused form in the person having to know everything. The person may lie and make up an answer for what they don't know and this just seems as a matter of course that they should be omniscient. They lying is, of course, from a higher stage of development but the person ego ideal tension to know is all pervasive. It's possible that this is actually projective identification and the person has assumed the parental imago, because the patient doesn't seem to have a drive to want to acquire new knowledge at all.

This returns me to Klein's epistmophilic instinct being so early in development. It makes sense to think that at the auto-erotic level one has the choice between choosing perceptions that are found out in the world or choosing perceptions in the memory or in phantasy/day dreams. To choose against the outer world for the inner world seems to be the choice against learning. In a previous post I discussed Nietzsche's nihilism as the horror of change. This isn't to say someone is literally incapable of learning. I am not talking about ego functions, but desire/drives and what is or is not of interest to the person based upon their libidinal economy.

Another interesting thing lately has been the proliferation of patients who are defused in the volar stage against Time and seem to have one hobby or interest they live for. These patients don't plan, don't save money, aren't thinking about what could go right or wrong in the future, and live for the day or at most for the weekend. They are functioning enough that they are working but they aren't invested in their jobs and for the most part the jobs are far beneath their potential. However, some interest, like collecting motorbikes, searching for jewels/panning for gold, studying a favorite subject, etc. is the only pursuit they really care for. They don't care for their relationships very much, but only to obtain this 'holy grail'. This of course makes me think of the Lord of the Rings and what I've written before on the transitional object. I've waffled back and forth on whether the home was a feminine symbol or shared with the masculine... I'm still not sure. I've thought before that maybe transitional object was an achievement of the trito stage but now I'm not sure, now I think that it seems like the object of the masculine volar castration complex... I need more data. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

the demonized class

In one way, psychoanalysis looks at demonized class of individuals as an externalization of a person's own repressed feelings. The anti-homosexual crusader is bringing the fight between his own homosexual desire and its inhibition to society. When someone goes out of their way to say no to something then it's self-evident that he had to defend against a part of himself that wanted to say yes.

However, in working with criminals it is apparent that the demonized class of the child molester can't mean that everyone who puts them down, talks about being bothered by them, or puts out the message that he would hurt one, is always fighting off his own desire. Instead I'd like to venture an economic reason (as opposed to a dynamic one). If you have a criminal who has lost his good reputation in his community (phallic) and has committed crimes that have taken him out of civilization for a decent amount of time (anal), then the last stage of good conscience that he has hung on to is the volar stage. I've written before that in this stage impulses that make one monstrous, such as cannibalism and things that go beyond murder in cold blood, are part of social anxiety (nuclear complexes like oedipus, electra, antigone, bellerophon) or in the volar trito a rudimentary guilt conscience is formed. Economically, the killers, robbers, etc. still pride themselves on not being monstrous because they've transgressed the other forms.

In a previous post I wrote about the volar trito as involving the idea of the skin. This came from the Odyssey and the "skin harvesters" that attacked Odysseus and his men. To this connection I'd like to add that The Walking Dead. The show takes place on the volar level of Being and attempts to make it to the anal level, as with the Governor, always end up badly. There are volar leaders, like Rick, who have small groups that are nomadic. Any place that isn't nomadic has been shown to have corrupt commanders (The Governor, Terminus, etc.). Zombies aren't taking out big chunks of flesh when they bite someone on the show, but instead just get the skin.

Where I was raised they used to call child molesters skinners and I was always puzzled by where that would come from until now.