Saturday, February 21, 2015

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.


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