Friday, June 12, 2015

death anxiety

For a while now I've been theorizing that in the altruistic complexes (Antigone and Bellerophon) we have the person idealizing someone over themselves. In Antigone, the subject altruist makes the reputation or name of another, or another's happiness, as more important than her own. In the Bellerophon complex, the object altruist self-sabotages because he doesn't want to put his name first and fears usurping another who is idealized. In both cases, I've also got the impression that placing one's name first brings about pity for the parental substitute who may be displaced. However, this is still putting the matter in egoistic terms.

To be clear, at the phallic stage egoism enters into the altruistic pole. This egoism is qualitatively different than the egoism the belongs to the egoistic pole, but the two intermix and even an altruist with a developmentally blocked egoistic pole will still show egoism. The qualitative difference is to be seen in how competitive the person might be, as well as their relationship to taking on leader positions and their willpower.

I've worked with a few object altruistic patients who show a lack of stick-with-it-ness or a lack of will power in their life. While the Cartesian would say that the person chooses and they have chosen not to stick with anything, I am more of an empiricist and would say that if we never see willpower expressed than why pretend the person has it. These object altruists, have a tendency to talk about the magic and mystery of life, of the universe, and certain sub-cultures. These idealizations, of course, represent the ego drive idealizations of the social body in various ways, all the way down to the auto-erotic and maybe earlier birth stage. At these earlier stages, the world with humans as a part of it, or the world/universe alone (without representations of people) is the Other of the ego drive.

With one of these object altruists the connection of finally reducing the idealization of the social body/parental substitutes to become an individual who feels guilt, or "owing it to oneself" to have some kind of self-reliant existence, was strongly connected to death anxiety. To "cut the umbilical cord," as he put it, meant dreams in which he would die. He was able to candidly talk about how this fear was connected to living for oneself in some way.

Since then I've seen several others who come to this struggle point. (Of course, you can never tell them what they need to do, and I can't imagine how any CBT therapists could have success with being goal oriented with them.). I've interpreted what my one patient was so candid about expressing, when I hear the object altruists talking about being at the tipping point. And, I've been rewarded with them reporting an intense anxiety following this interpretation.

In a parallel way, some of the egoistic patients I see will struggle between choosing their life as addicts vs. consolidating their altruism to live for their family and not for themselves.

Of course this is the father complex or phallic trito stage that I've outlined in Economics.    

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