Wednesday, March 18, 2015

To think analytically vs. to practice analytically

I'm not a fan of Anna Freud. I'd much rather read Klein, and I find that Anna has too much common sense.
So, in the passage below I appreciate he common sense on how to think analytically, but then, in regards to technique, I find her thoughts very trite:

TO THINK ANALYTICALLY AUTOMATICALLY IMPLIES A DISSECTION of psychic material into its constituent elements, to treat each of these elements as a factor in its own right, and to trace it back to its first appearance within the psychic processes. In the technique of psychoanalytic treatment, it is the analyst's main endeavor to spotlight such items in the patient's unconscious mind, to expose them to consciousness, and then to leave it to the individual concerned to integrate what has been discovered with the rest of his personality. The analyst's task ends where synthesis begins, the latter being one of the most important functions of the ego—a function, moreover, which, according to analytic experience, proceeds best without interference from external influence (The Concept of Developmental Lines, 1981)
I think it's too easy to take refuge in ideas of the person having to do the work themselves; if they don't get better than it is their fault.
Also, tracing something back to its first appearance is valuable in regards to phantasy, but that's where Klein is valuable and not Anna:
A patient had a falling out with a friend because she had got into another power struggle with a room-mate, and the friend was tired of hearing about these struggles. The friend confronts her and says that she should consider how she might keep putting herself in these situations again and again instead of saying the room-mate is all bad. She takes this as a huge betrayal. We explore this for a while and she eventually decides that she will go see the friend. She goes and said it was good to see him but something felt 'broken' and like it can't be repaired. I ask her to associate to this. She says a mug that's thrown to the ground. It can be glued back together but "microscopically" it's not the same mug. She associates it to Persian tea inside, and she loves the smell. She associates this to boyfriends who she loves the smell of. She also associates her mother, always drinking tea and trying diet but keeps saying that she's not fat. Then a phantasy emerges of the fat mother who has all the liquid from the cup inside of her while the patient has none. I interpret the broken cup as her attacking the mother's breast because she has all the good liquid inside of her and is fat while the patient is hungry. This leads to her describing her parents love as something special in which they could finish each other's sentences and almost read each others minds. It didn't feel triangulated or like there was envy. 

So, from a connection with a close friend being lost we go back to an 'ur' moment in which she felt the connection to her mother was lost, with the mug. liquid, and indications pointing to the breast. This led to the interpretation of the mother withholding the breast and being fat while the patient was hungry and the patients aggression. Then this led to the appearance of the father and mother together and some relief for her.
Also, Anna neglects to mention 'the first appearance' of the problem in the patient's recent history. What happened with the parental-substitutes? Anyone with halfways decent judgment can see friends and acquaintances change, harden, die a little, or lose their former health and vibrancy. Problems in work and love are also important moments that have to be recovered.
These aren't the only ways to work with others, but they are better ways than blaming the person for not getting well.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

wish to be both sexes- correction

Up til now I've been identifying the wish to be both sexes, and specifically the relationship in which there is there is the "everything" person who does the jobs of both man and woman and the "nothing" person who does the jobs of neither and is depressed, as volar.

My thinking has been that it's a defense against the sexual difference that is introduced at that stage. However, I've seen been with a patient who used the phrase "she is my whole world" in this relation and made me realize that it's better classified as auto-erotic.

In contrast, I can mention several volar stage relations.

There is the person who is so possessive and jealous that the other person can't even have a pet they are close to.

There is the relation in which one person is the other's will and commands him or her to do things, but without the commands the person doesn't do anything for the other on his or her own.

The nymphomaniac in which sexuality is felt for men or women in general is volar.

There's also a relation in which a person wants to keep the other person, seemingly as a pet, to be beautiful, be clever, or do something impressive. One works and pays for the other to live.

This is also the stage, as I've mentioned before, in which sexual difference exists and so you have the phenomenon of a man who only has female friends and distrusts other men, or vice versa with women.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

An interesting idea from Bergler

It's sometimes nice to read Edmund Bergler because he's one of the last heroic analysts. To be more precise, he's a bit of a showboat, like Bill Murray in The Life Aquatic. The systematic thought in his writing always seems a little absurd, but from some of his examples, one can't doubt that he found something. It may not be the jaguar shark that he thinks it is, but it is something...

I was really bowled over by his idea of malignant masochism coming from a "schizoid" defense against anxiety.  (Schizoid, narcissism, and sexuality- are there any more overused words in psychoanalysis?) A person may get off on castration anxiety, like being caught in an affair, being laughed at by others, falling while climbing mountains, losing a loved one, etc. but not have the feared injury or death take place. Bergler adds that a schizoid defense that blocks the anxiety signal may be what results in the game of getting off actually turning into the injuries and death occurring. He cites those who commit suicide as examples. I'll have to think more about this... It might be a crayon ponyfish but it's the most interesting thing I've read lately.

clinical techniques: conflict and loss

I've been having some good success with a technique lately and I thought I would share it here and, see if a couple people might try it out and see what it gets them. 

A patient suffers from an auto-immune problem and has been sick 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...

Another patient complained of a horrible memory. I said that this was a bad thing and that it's very important to be able to remember things. He agreed. I asked him what his most important possession was. He said his cat. I asked him to imagine that he was reaching out for the cat but he couldn't reach her and she wasn't coming closer. I asked him how he's describe the cat and he said "gone" and "irritated by me". I asked him to say these as You-statements and whether any person came to mind. He said his ex-girlfriend and discussed how he'd call all the time and she'd never answer or make up an excuse to go right away and this led him to feeling angry with her...

Another patient got to a top dog and underdog moment of feeling like he should live as efficiently as possible. He should get up early in the morning and be prepared for work, he should not eat out and shop so much and save money, he should go fishing because he likes it, etc.  However, he often pushes the snooze button and tells himself "5 minutes" (which turns into an hour), talks himself into buying new things, and convinces himself that he should stay in town to do stuff at home and then ends up watching youtube videos. I ask him to talk about the underdog and his cleverness and then how the under dog sees the top dog. He said he sees him as weak and irritating. I ask him to put these into you statements and he brings up his father who he thinks is weak for lacking conviction and irritating because he said he cares and would be around more but he never is. 

The ego ideal tensions in the last example have been discussed before in relation to volar Time and seem to resemble what W. Reich regarded as the 'living machine' aspect of the compulsive. I think it stands for a good candidate as the proto defusion and contrasted with the omnipotence of wishes of the deutero. 

The second example, deductively, would be part of the auto-erotic stage. Not only does memory belong to the early titans in Greek mythology but also Death is represented as "gone" or absence here (as contrasted to the later stages in which it can mean death of the reputation, death of belonging to society, death of the body, etc.). 

The second example has many applications in things like not remembering one's dreams, loss of personal items, etc. The conflict of ego ideal (what you should be) and ego (what you are) should be contrasted by the appearance of loss, absence, fallenness, etc. in patients.

I've already discussed the first example but would add that the body-ego is the first form of the ego and that the auto-erotic stage would also be the stage or libido being blocked from health. I think I've posted before about Eigen's formulation of a person not allowing themselves to experience pleasure as a form of what I termed  ego ideal conceit tensions in the altruist. In the auto-erotic this operation happens with the body in general, it's not allowed to thrive, while, in contrast, at the volar one's needs/pleasures aren't allowed to be place before anyone else's. However, I would like to add that basic ahedonia probably also belongs at the auto-erotic stage. I've had a few patients who, in a vampire-like way, talk about there problems with the sunlight. It seems to represent physical health and feeling alive in one's body and they avoid it and stay in doors and often smoke, over eat, or do things that deadens any natural pleasure they find in their health. As always, there is proto, deutero, trito phases to each stage and it will require references to symbols, parental imagos, and erotogenic zones across many patients before these can be plotted with confidence.   
I'm not touting this as curing the problems, although many have brought up reduction of the inner conflict or loss on their own. Mostly, I consider it as a way to lead the person to bring up things that are more important to them and after they bring up these more affect laden relations there is more intimacy and progressive communication.

If someone tries it, please post your findings.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

the echoist and "castration" anxiety and the deutero stage.

There are several patients I've had who have been unable to ask their boss for a raise, or to ask their boss when he was going to give them the raise he had promised.

These patients generally don't want to incur the disappointment of the father-substitute. He should be good and see that they work hard and want to foster them. Of course this is transferential and not based upon the actual boss they have, and when they they feel used or taken advantage of by him then that could lead to a relapse. He doesn't care about being good, so I don't care about it either.

At earlier levels, when it's not a phallic work-group and group leader relation, the "loss of love" or echoistic castration anxiety resembles anger more. The echoist is walking on egg shells and doesn't want to do something to make the parental-substitute angry. This can proceed all the way down to not wanting 'to be seen or heard' as if one's material existence is an affront to the parent (i.e. the auto-erotic).

In projective identification, Klein (1975) writes of an operation in which both the bad and hated parts of the self, as well as the good parts too, are projected into the object (p. 8). 

When the echoist has projectively identified with their boyfriend or girlfriend, he or she truly feels that there is no good in them. They are dead, not there, or absent. I think that Fairbairn's formulation of the schizoid being unable to give is based upon this operation.

The problem with psychoanalysis so far is that it either hasn't been psycho-dynamic enough or that it wanted to have just a single line of development...

As much as using the dialectic risks making my formulations look theoretical or artificial, I can't help trying to make sense of the qualitative differences I see.

So, when there is the egoist who is propelled by the drive for perfection this can be negated in projective identification with the parental imago so that the egoist becomes grandiose or feels that he is more important than he is and doesn't have to prove himself.

However, between the egoist and identification with the parental imago there is the deutero position in which the parental imago is split and the individual has confidence without having to compete for it. The deutero egoist merely has to approximate the mother's phallic image.

The proto-egoist has self-hate or contempt in failure to compete well.
In PI there is tangible grandiosity.
In the deutero stage there is an in-between in which the person has reactive inferiority feelings. Instead of PI in which the person feels he is the boss, the deutero egoist can reactively be pushed to do and learn more in order to approximate a parental-substitute.

 With the deutero altruist there is a similar construction of no longer having to focus on helping others but instead being close to the parental substitute and living vicariously through them. The deutero altruist, as long ago mentioned, can sacrifice her interests to work for the egoism of her romantic partner or he work-group leader.

As the egoist in PI has illusory superiority and the deutero egoist has reactive superiority, the altruist in PI has illusory pity that doesn't translate into action and the deutero altruist has reactive pity. The altruist isn't naive but can very perceptively see the failings of the parental substitute and can try to fill them. This has traditionally been seen as the castrated mother who the deutero altruist tries to raise back up, while the deutero egoist has the phallic mother.

The deutero egoist has superiority/inferiority as is well known and the deutero altruist has pity/self-pity in working to restore the father-substitute but not being appreciated and not getting to live for oneself and being susceptible to echoistic injuries of being used and taken advantage of.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Economics of Libido

is officially published.

This book is an attempt to get beyond pluralism by embedding psychoanalysis in philosophy and returning to Freud qua psychologist to link the depths of the mind to its surface. Beginning with the proposition that egoism and altruism are a more accurate representation of the binary of activity and passivity, Economics revisits Freud’s work to contextualize his central concepts and expand upon them. Egoism and altruism are further divided into masculine and feminine drives which can exist in either sex due to psychic bisexuality. Pederson’s Freud places the Oedipus complex as the height of personal happiness in striving for passionate love or success while maturing through a series of educators and mentors. The subsequent father complex is snatched from obscurity as the recreation of the parental incest taboo amongst siblings. The ideal of commitment in relationships, fairness in one’s dealings with peers, and Freud’s emphasis on the non-universality of guilt are given their proper weight in his model. However, this reading of Freud’s work also demonstrates that earlier forms of the superego exist and are depersonalized to create different ontologies, or levels of Being. In the tradition of Kant, what seem like relations too complex for a child to understand, the author contends, are references to the necessary subjective senses of Space, Time, the Superlative, and Prestige. Lastly, Pederson offers an explication of Wittgenstein’s private language argument to justify this return to drive theory and to appreciate Freud’s ‘Copernican Revolution’ of the mind.

Reviews and Endorsements

‘The superego has diminished in importance in psychoanalysis in recent years, and so it is a delight to encounter Trevor Pederson's close reading of Freud’s understanding of the concept, especially because he also grapples with its contemporary relevance. Pederson revisits a number of other related ideas, too, such as social ontology. Philosophically inclined psychoanalysts from all orientations will find much to enjoy in this new book.’
—Elliot Jurist, Professor of Psychology and Philosophy, The City College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York; editor ofPsychoanalytic Psychology

'A dense, insightful exploration of the human condition filled with ideas that stimulate further thought. A surprising turn to Freud’s work on psychosexuality and what Pederson does with it! Rich arrays of philosophical, cultural, and psychoanalytic figures populate this work, each used as a lens on psychosocial realities. Pederson links conscience with post-oedipal development and develops a kind of dialectics between social ontology and psychic bisexuality. An uncommon perspective today that richly adds to the current pool.’
— Michael Eigen, PhD, author of Contact With the Depths and Faith

‘Contexualising Freud’s formulations of the Oedipus complex and psychic bisexuality within a set of references ranging from Kant and Wittgenstein to Star Wars and The Matrix, Trevor Pederson contests contemporary trends in psychoanalytic theory in this ambitious and provocative synthesis of ego psychology, philosophy, and psychoanalytic criticism.’
— Adele Tutter, Faculty at Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research

‘A clinician should know how his particular orientation relates to the larger human condition. As an 87-year-old psychiatrist, I thought I pretty well understood the relationship of my thinking with other thinking. Trevor Pederson’s scholarly book reveals far more extensive connections than I had previously known. He brilliantly connects Freudian-based theory with that of other schools – and with sociology and philosophy. I recommend this book to therapists who enjoy comparing and contrasting different perspectives.’
— Joel Markowitz, MD

‘In this compelling work, Trevor Pederson returns us to a proper appreciation of the basal insights of classical psychoanalysis that emphasise the primacy of the drives and their social constitution. Through deft philosophical analysis of character types and unconscious motivations that transpire within our equiprimordial relatedness to others, Pederson revitalises the rich complexity of Freudian theory in showing that the mind is inherently dialectical. In an age when drive theory is a drowning man, here we are reminded of the indispensable organic and social foundations that govern psychic reality.’
— Jon Mills, PsyD, PhD, ABPP, philosopher, psychoanalyst, and psychologist; author of Underworlds: Philosophies of the Unconscious from Psychoanalysis to Metaphysics

Saturday, March 7, 2015

volar vs. auto-erotic

I discussed my last post with a friend who was confused between the auto-erotic and the volar in the example.

One patient got over his mania and we began to construct his volar ego ideal. His fantasy was living in city near the ocean in which everyone wore bright colors and had tattoos. Everyone was "real" and never wasted time in chit chat but were just "themselves" all the time in all their uniqueness. 

 It is true that this might be a confluence between the auto-erotic ego ideal and the volar because it involves both the environment/Space and that everyone there is the same and there's no hierarchy at all.

In the auto-erotic there is a representation of Otherness in the sense of other material bodies exist in Space.

There should be a fantasy there, like in Hobbes, of the war of all against all.

There's also Tim Burton like worlds where everyone is in harmony with their environment (the gloomy, decrepit environment is matched with the people). In post-apocalyptic scenarios the destruction of the environment is often mirrored in the punk styles of the people as well.

However, in my patient's fantasy the two tiers of the pure ones and those outside of the city existed. They were like the greek gods in Olympus, away from the boring of fake people. I never asked about the interaction with the ocean but it is possible that there was a lot more interplay between the environment and all the people.

mania vs. Dionysian onenes in object altruism

My clinical experience of mania is one of object altruism.

The person isn't a power-based person using their willpower to reach perfection. Rather, the person wants to cause delight, be interesting, and belong.

If this person assumes the place of the parental imago (i.e. projective identification) then he feels that he is interesting and delightful to others and doesn't feel like he needs to prove it. He often just talks on and on about himself like others must be interested. There is a sense of superiority too, the person might think that he thinks more quickly than others and uses more of brain than others, but again, it's not power and achievement based and isn't colored by subject egoism. The grandiosity and judgmental quality (contempt) of projective identification in egoism can't be confused with this by any person with wisdom. 

Just as an altruist wants approval, fears loss of love, and doesn't want to disappoint, the manic person will often register concerns for others and wanting to help or do good as someone who stands in for the parental imago. However, the assumption of the parental imago means that one is no longer driven to do good but is already so. Thus, in some ways, the benevolence doesn't translate into actual beneficence. Especially in object altruism, in which goodness is secondary to being interesting or causing delight, the manic person quickly forgets about the good things they said they were going to do. 

It seems that many ecstatic practices and use of drugs also connects with manic feelings. If the object altruist wants to belong to the group then as the parental imago he or she is the group and no longer has to be driven. 

One patient got over his mania and we began to construct his volar ego ideal. His fantasy was living in city near the ocean in which everyone wore bright colors and had tattoos. Everyone was "real" and never wasted time in chit chat but were just "themselves" all the time in all their uniqueness. 

With drugs or alcohol sometimes one can more easily achieve the phantasy of belonging to a group of unique people like this and dissolve oneself in the participation mystique. 

One final note here is the importance of being borderline of the foreclosure of the paternal imago.

The maternal imago of altruism is death. I've written before that a common repetition-compulsion in substance abuse is for an addict to have parents or a lover who thinks they are good, attractive, and who altruistically want to help them while the addict causing them immense anxiety that she will return to her old life, be with someone else, or die. At higher levels the repetition involves the addict wasting their talent or losing their reputation (to the anxiety of the other person involved) and at lower levels it involves real danger, imprisonment, or death. 

This projective identification with the maternal imago and thus a borderline status is much more prevalent with the criminal populations I work with. When the paternal imago is involved, the mania is not as severe. The person may still have the primal scene repetition in which they play the part of the maternal imago but this is offset by the other functions of the paternal imago. As I mentioned above, the anxiety of the altruist concerns 'loss of love' from paternal substitutes and so if the paternal isn't foreclosed then the separateness of the two people involved is intact. With the maternal imago and the paternal foreclosed there is a strong sense of oneness and merger.

It might be that it's better not to name projective identification with the paternal imago as mania... but the idea of introducing a bunch more names seems anal to me...