Monday, May 30, 2016

The straw-man of the relationalists.

The more I read of relational psychoanalysis, the more I can see that they made Freud into a straw-man. I can sympathize, and since their ego psychologist educators valorized Freud, I'm sure they couldn't rebel against them  without rebelling against him too. However, instead of another political division, they could have returned to Freud's texts and showed the ego psychologists that they misunderstood their foundation.    

They can't pretend like Freud wasn't concerned with the relations between others:

The contrast between individual psychology and social or group psychology, which at a first glance may seem to be full of significance, loses a great deal of its sharpness when it is examined more closely. It is true that individual psychology is concerned with the individual man and explores the paths by which he seeks to find satisfaction for his instinctual impulses; but only rarely and under certain exceptional conditions is individual psychology in a position to disregard the relations of this individual to others. In the  individual's mental life someone else is invariably involved, as a model, as an object, as a helper, as an opponent; and so from the very first individual psychology, in this extended but entirely justifiable sense of the words, is at the same time social psychology as well.
The relations of an individual to his parents and to his brothers and sisters, to the object of his love, and to his physician—in fact all the relations which have hitherto been the chief subject of psycho-analytic research—may claim to be considered as social phenomena; and in this respect they may be contrasted with certain other processes, described by us as ‘narcissistic’, in which the satisfaction of the instincts is partially or totally withdrawn from the influence of other people. (Freud, 1921, p. 69)

How can they ignore that there are facts like the 'omnipotence of wishes,' feelings of depersonalization, and loss of "faith" that aren't relations in which the individual measures himself in relation to others, but relations between him and studying efficacy over time, his body, and the environment/world?

Moreover, these relations that aren't measured against others aren't simply regarded as a one person model, but are still expression of parental imagos that were internalized. 

"Pathology has made us acquainted with a great number of states in which the boundary lines between the ego and the external world become uncertain or in which they are actually drawn incorrectly. There are cases in which parts of a person's own body, even portions of his own mental life—his perceptions, thoughts and feelings—, appear alien to him and as not belonging to his ego; there are other cases in which he ascribes to the external world things that clearly originate in his own ego and that ought to be acknowledged by it. Thus even the feeling of our own ego is subject to disturbances and the boundaries of the ego are not constant.
Further reflection tells us that the adult's ego-feeling cannot have been the same from the beginning. It must have gone through a process of development, which cannot, of course, be demonstrated but which admits of being constructed with a fair degree of probability. An infant at the breast does not as yet distinguish his ego from the external world as the source of the sensations flowing in upon him. He gradually learns to do so, in response to various promptings. He must be very strongly impressed by the fact that some sources of excitation, which he will later recognize as his own bodily organs, can provide him with sensations at any moment, whereas other sources evade him from time to time—among them what he desires most of all, his mother's breast—and only reappear as a result of his screaming for help. In this way there is for the first time set over against the ego an ‘object’, in the form of something which exists ‘outside’ and which is only forced to appear by a special action. A further incentive to a disengagement of the ego from the general mass of sensations—that is, to the recognition of an ‘outside’, an external world—is provided by the frequent, manifold and unavoidable sensations of pain and unpleasure the removal and avoidance of which is enjoined by the pleasure principle, in the exercise of its unrestricted domination" (1930, 66-7)

There is a lot that Freud didn't fully theorize fully, and there are passages in his work that are misleading, but he's given us a strong foundation that is still better than any other model of the mind that I've seen. 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

deutero Bellerophon complex

I've had a request for more clinical data on the Bellerophon complex.

Before I share a little from a former patient, let me emphasize that there is a difference between the proto and deutero versions.

The deutero version is non-universal and means that the individual feels an equality with the parental imago. He or she feel special and like the parental-substitute has a special interest in him or her, while the proto version feels the authority figure or love interest is more distant and 'unattainable adult.'

I've considered using the myth of Heracles (SE), Arachne (OE), Orpheus (OA), etc. to signify the proto complexes of the different libidinal positions. However, most psychoanalysts are used to just referring to the Oedipus complex to cover all triangular relationships (if they even talk about complexes at all). To introduce 8 new names seems too much, while introducing 4 and making a proto and deutero distinction between the two doesn't seem as intimidating. Moreover, there are also passive-altruistic and passive-egoistic versions, and how they play out in the ego or object drives.

In the passive-altruistic deutero version of the Bellerophon complex in the ego drives you have:

1. The OA initially idealizes his boss (parental-substitute).

2. He learns how to do his job and then feels like he knows how to do it better than his boss.

3. He sees faults in his boss and then begin to feel that he is disappointing and feels sorry for him.

4. He feels that he can start his own company and be more successful and that he isn't paid enough and/or doesn't receive enough gratitude for his help.

5. He doesn't assert himself to ask for a pay raise, or to express that he doesn't feel appreciated. It feels ungrateful or like it is the parental-substitute's prerogative to judge and reward these things.

6. His frustration grows but when you explore what would happen if he asks for a raise, for example, he believes that the parental-substitute won't be happy with him asking. The expectation is that the boss, even though he seems to need the OA, might tell him to leave.

7. When you explore what will happen to the boss if the OA leaves, he imagines the boss's company will suffer and he might go out of business.

8. The failure of the boss's company is tied to the boss feeling sad and can deepen to the idea that he might have a 'breakdown' and maybe even become suicidal.

9. The OA feels like he would be responsible for this and this is his impediment.

In ego and object drive parallelism, a similar feeling of being able to find a more desirable partner is experienced and a similar unconscious fear that one's partner would become sad, have a breakdown, or want to die is similarly the impediment.

Additionally, it's one thing to worry about the boss's image-ego, but the idea that he'd have a "breakdown," become depressed, or commit suicide shows that the relation extends into earlier levels of Being.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

I'm not doing existential psychotherapy

Psychoanalysis is existential:

"It is only after I was well into the revision of my original manuscript that I became familiar with the large body of post-Freudian psychoanalysis and discovered that certain characteristic concerns of existential psychology had been incorporated within the Freudian framework through its extension into the pre-oedipal period of development and into the psychopathological manifestations of the developmental disturbances of this period that are found in borderline and narcissistic illness. The sharp opposition between existentialism and contemporary psychoanalysis on this score is therefore not warranted…. The psychoanalytic interest in the existential themes of pre-oedipal pathology is itself a historical development, which was antedated by their description in existentialism" (Izenberg, The Existentialist Critique of Freud, 1976)

Friday, May 20, 2016

continuing thoughts on psychosis.

Along with the question of some early defense, another important variable is the deutero stage (combined parent imago). This decrease in the power of the superego (i.e. the low ego ideal) means that it the measurement of oneself at a given stage is undermined. This may make it easier for a regression from higher stages. It may even be part of the early stage scotomization.

Another important factor in psychosis concerns the particular ego injury of a humiliation/betrayal in both one's work life and love life at the same time. (To this is might be possible to add a problem with friends as well.) In my clinical experience there have been at least three patients who had a psychotic break after they were working with a boss that criticized them and went out of his way to either put them in a dangerous situation, have them fired, or demoted. At the same time there was either a break up with a girlfriend or a betrayal in her cheating.

The patients themselves strongly registered the fact that both things happened at the same time. One of them emphasized that it was when the girlfriend began working for the boss and the idea of him "talking shit" to her was a possibility, that the situation became really painful.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Is there an early stage of development that creates psychosis?

This question comes from the difference between paranoid personality disorder and paranoid schizophrenia.

I've worked with a few people with paranoid personality disorder who have shown fantasies of 'imminent war'. There is a sense that at any moment a war or battle can break out in which there will be a number of enemies, explosions, and danger from both people and the immediate environment.

In these individuals, there is a grandiosity that comes from identifying with the parental imago (i.e. the expectation of the imminent war is a projective identification from the self imago that is projected into the people and environment around them). However, even though this is an early imago and it's possible that this defense could give them a psychotic like break from reality, they show higher levels of functioning too. In a mechanistic, "tube" conception of libido, I thought that the defense would take energy away from higher functioning, and it might, in some degree, but there is still a huge difference between paranoid schizophrenia and paranoid personality disorder.

This difference is most clearly stated in the fact that those with paranoid personality disorder are still working, in relationships, and more attached to the social body. This means that they haven't regressed from functioning at higher levels.

The question here is whether regression from higher levels is an operation that is part of an attack on the level, from some mechanism formed in the level itself, or if there is some earlier defense (maybe something like scotimization) that is part of an early level that is required to regress from higher levels.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Different emphasis in the proto-phallic drives

Long ago I used the myth of Perseus to investigate subject altruism and its symbols. In the myth Perseus wants to protect his mother from the king, Polydectes, and the latter plots to get rid of him through demanding the head of the medusa.

In the proto phallic drives I have used the formula that the subject egoist becomes altruistic towards his image/reputation (in the public) and the subject altruist becomes egoistic in relation to the image/reputation of the idealized object.

I've posted about some variations to these before, but in conversation I realized that without being formal about this, that many people walk away with wrong ideas.

The altruism towards the image/reputation of the subject egoistic can also be expressed in an altruism towards his profession or field of work. To take pride in one's work necessarily means that one genuinely care about it, but also that one is comparing oneself, and one's competency, to others in the field too.

The egoism towards the image/reputation of the idealized object in the subject altruist isn't just expressed in the SA becoming a "cheerleader" for the object or working to help him, her, or the group to have better PR. Egoism here can also be concern with being a protector, not leaving when things get bad or difficult...  

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

OE and the deutero relationship

This blog has suffered a lot because I've been spending most of my time writing the dissertation/book.

I've made a few posts here based upon my research there, but I'm pretty sure that I will stop blogging in the near future and just focus on future writing exclusively.

I really have my doubts that a casual reader can get much out of this blog, without having read my book or laboriously searching through old posts. I haven't made it too user-friendly or linked to the big posts that might even offer an explanation of what the acronyms might mean. I apologize for that, but, then again, this venture has mostly been for me to think out loud. My friendships have suffered a lot in the last decade and rather than having people with whom to "talk philosophy," I've tried to force myself to write more and get better habits that way. I've amassed quotations, read myths, and drawn up a decent supply of articles and books to carve out a position of my own. The problem is that, going forward, a lot of these thinking out loud posts, will probably detract from my published work. Plus, the secret hope that some interesting people might find my blog and contact me, is probably never going to yield more than it has.

Anyway, with the attention given to subject egoism and altruism, I thought I'd share a small though on object egoism.

The deutero position in object egoism, like subject altruism, will often have a mentor-protégé relationship. In a rivalry with a former mentor who wanted to guide one, and give one advice and help the OE set up her beautiful life, the OE might feel that the mentor has "fooled others". She feels that the mentor puts up a public image and the public has bought it and doesn't see the person for what they really are, and when the former mentor is able to use this to their advantage against the OE, you have the double attack on both the mentor and the community who believes them. In the object drives, the former mentor/rival can seduce the OE's boyfriend or husband away to the same effect.

Again, this is the deutero position, and this position is visible in the repetition of the close mentor protégé relation to the phallic mother that is transcribed to the father imago (in a girl's object drives, but not necessarily in her ego drives). Most OE patients I've worked with have mentors that are women, but it appears that one of the ways of dealing with ego injuries is through the difference between the sexes. Some OE patients will not have female friends and only male friends/admirers. They might have a male mentor in the social sphere, but more often have something like that relationship in their love relationship (and this is often through PI so that they are the mentor and he is the protégé).

compulsive vs. inhibited personality.

The problem with personality disorder classifications is that they seem to register the super compulsive or super inhibited personality at every level of psychosexual development.

The compulsive is compulsive about thinking (i.e. obsessional about details), about time management, about his particular way of dealing with things, about work, etc.

I'm sure that such a compulsive patient might exist out there, but I get patients that have one or two such traits and not all of them. By having discrete levels of superego development that relate to different parental imagos, I feel like I've helped to clarify Freud's use of the 'dictatorial thou shalt' of the ego ideal and the tensions that exist between the ego ideal and the ego.

Surely a compulsive trait is a symptom, and the regular proto ego ideal tension is competiveness. The high ego ideal means one takes, for example, pride in his work and wants to be seen as competent, if not the most competent worker at his job. The compulsive trait at the phallic stage, with the object of one's profession, is to have to compulsively work, which is different.

The perfection of the parental imago becomes the standard of the dictatorial thou shalt. One must becomes one's father here.

Of course this is on the subject egoistic libidinal position, but we know that compulsive traits for the object egoist exist too. Compulsive cleaning or tidiness, compulsive work (as Arachne and her weaving), and other forms are in evidence here too. Again, the formula of living up to the perfection of the parental imago underlies this too.

I use inhibited personality for the altruistic pole, because there is confusion in old psychoanalytic terminology. Phobic personality was sometimes used but it brings up actual phobias too. Masochism was used too, but, along with, anti-exhibitionistic and other egoistically derived ideas, altruism is a wholly negative phenomenon. Reaction formations of hate to love and anti-exhibitionism as curtailed exhibitionistic impulses do exist. However, one can't universalize them. This is the big, big error in classic psychoanalytic theory (and in much of it that followed): universal development.

So, for now, inhibited is a simple, common language way to point out that just as someone wasn't always compulsive, and it was an event that occurred later in their life, in which the superego was no longer in harmony with the ego, so too, do people become more inhibited.

Just as the deep object (or imago) of perfection becomes the model for the compulsive in egoism. The deep object of death becomes the model for the inhibited person in altruism. The fear of the inhibited person to say no, to ask for a raise, to make a fair amount of money from a transaction, to be seen or heard, to share their opinion, etc. means that they approximate death. While another person could look at the situation they are inhibited in and see that they only want what is fair, they feel like it is presumptuous or conceit to ask. Thus, for them to not assert themselves for what is fair, means that they feel they don't exist in this way, to not exist means to be dead for all practical purposes.

This is also the case with the object altruist. A lot of what is under avoidant personality disorder is in the object altruistic libidinal position, and the person can have major inhibition under the idea of being seen as weird, inappropriate, boring, or unacceptable in some way. Both the altruistic positions can be said to fear rejection if they act against the inhibitions, but there are different attitudes in evidence between the two. Similarly, the compulsive work of Arachne is more towards beauty, then the compulsive work of a subject egoist may evidence.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

tensions in the echoistic ego ideal

A psychoanalyst is running a group to work with issues of feeling one is asking for 'too much" and I thought I'd share it as a description of an altruistic proto ego ideal:

Many people have been made to feel that whatever they want is  ‘too much’.  For some, even the most modest requests might feel like ‘too much.’

For example

"I would like to charge x fee, but I think it would be too much..."

“I would like to resign from managed care panels, but I am afraid that would be ‘too much’ for my patients…”

But ‘too much’ for who?  Were we once "too much" for our parents and then came to see ourselves that way?  

But the phrase, “too much” is itself worthy of analysis particularly if you’re an analyst.

What exactly is "too much" anyway and should the therapist be completely hostage to it?   

This psychoanalyst has been trained in the modern school of Spotnitz and so there aren't deep interpretations or anything going on with the internal objects or different forms of id aggression or affection. Many would say the school is bad or out of touch because it does have judgments about what "maturation" is that deal with character and not inner structure, which would make it sound scientific.

However, many of the school, including this therapist, attribute more to socialization than they do to pscyhosexual development. He writes: 

Many therapists (women especially) have been socialized to not ask for "too much" as though such a thing were immoral or psychologically sinful.  

I've found that you-statements constructed for such a person will point to an echoistic injury from a parental-substitute (if not the actual parents). 

You ask what the other would think of you if you asked for the "high fee" and get some ideas about being selfish, uncaring, or presumptuous, and you can find that the echoist endured this from someone too. 

Again, affect is key in psychoanalysis and you have to get to the anger, hate, or feelings of abandonment, etc. that was felt.

The anal stage is a good candidate for this feeling of too muchness. At the pugneus level, No is a problem, and people are often at the level of survival, the question is whether they are part of the society or not, and there are often dynamics in which they feel like they might be homeless (i.e. a good example of someone not participating in society).  The too muchness resonates with the person as a member of civilization, the question isn't whether they belong to society or feel like they are struggling to do so, but whether they are able to be like others with jobs, who pay taxes, and who are part of a rank and file. Then at the phallic stage it narrows or differentiates more, and concerns putting oneself before siblings, friends, or others one is close to.