Wednesday, August 9, 2017

passive subject altruism and the primal scene

You don't want to change!

An important part of masochistic stuckness is a primal scene.

The subject altruist tried to help the phallic mother (substitute) and although he or she went to great distances the phallic mother wouldn't change. When they come into therapy, be careful that you don't put in too much effort to be practical with them. They've entered projective identification with the phallic mother and now want others to try with them but won't take help.

In a similar variation of the proto phase (instead of the deutero) the altruist will frustrate friends and intimates. They will be too busy with other things and the intimate will feel like the altruist is being selfish, like they want to be chosen but the altruist chooses another, and like they are being avoided.

In altruism there are such subtle little hurts that are passed on to others and its interesting to think about how many therapists coach others when so many of these interactions are repetitions from earlier ego injuries.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The hunchback - symbol of the masculine (SE & OA)

The symbol of the hunchback is masculine and shows up in two ways.

The OA version is the hunchbacked "servant." He is often described as "solemn," "absent" in affect or  aliveness, and there's some sense that "nothing more will ever be [for me]." He has accepted his lot in life as an outsider and beneath others.

The SE version is the hunchbacked old man. He is "just mean," "always angry," "he takes the toys of kids that end up on his side of the fence," "he holds a grudge," and "hates people before he even knows them."

In Golem, in the Lord of the Rings, there is a mixture of both. He address others formally and acts in a servile way, but at the same time, he sees them as bad objects, doesn't trust them, and has the wispy hair of the old man.

Patients that produce these symbols can re-internalize them through their back and shoulders and once they do, they can feel the anger or apathy that goes along with them and it can lead them back to events that have to be processed.

Friday, June 2, 2017

aggression block and affection block

Work in fantasying, active imagination, or in the mind's eye can sound like a game or ineffectual to some people. However, any action done in fantasying is equivalent in intention to acting in the real world. For those who don't understand that thinking is based upon action another indication of the seriousness of this approach is that some patients can't perform certain actions in fantasying. With an echoist, aggression can sometimes feel wrong or even impossible in fantasy. I believe I've posted about this before, but sometimes an animal or non-human must express the aggression the patient feels towards another person. In witnessing the non-human attack the object of anger or hatred the person feels a release.

This release gives expression to how echoistic empathy and idealization can be so strong that the patient is impotent, avoids conflict of any kind, and is psychologically Christ-like in terms of resisting others. The person is forced to only be able to forgive others for their trespasses or see aggression in the world or from loved ones as being caused by demons or spiritual forces that take over others.

For some narcissistic, or more precisely, primary narcissistic patients (the echoist above is primary echoistic too), affection is similarly blocked. Even though their family may represent others who are related to the self and therefore don't invoke the same anxiety which non-family does, they don't show affection to family. The family still registers as part of self, but there is a defusion which means that there's ambivalence. Such primary narcissists can also construct cute animals and non-humans that represent affection with which they can identify in order to bypass their affection block.

Monday, May 29, 2017

the good, dead object in object altruism and echoism in general

I've mentioned this before under the idea of "ghosting" in sexual relationships. Invariably, the people I have worked with who have ghosted others can always be coaxed into discussing/guessing how the people they have had sex with might feel about them disappearing. There is always the promise or lure of a relationship greater than sex that the ghosted person feels. Their hopes are raised and then dashed and sometimes there are thoughts about whether "the ghost" might have died or been hurt.

This also works with friendships, of course.


It's simplistic but between the ego drives (work) and the object drives (love) the synthesis is friendship. Just as the idea of happiness, beauty, and the good will be different, depending on one's economics of libido, so too will friendships bear this stamp. Some will lean more towards sharing pursuits and interests with friends, some will prize humor, some will have a friend who is their ideal, some will berate their friends and direct their own self-criticism upon them, some want friends who are exactly like them and have their tastes and traits, etc.


A patient can get into how they are flakey and make plans and break them or are always late. Often their friends are the ones that have to deal with this behavior the most.

As with ghosting, the person is an "exciting object." They are the "life of the party," make things fun, have jokes, humors, or creativity that amuses, inspires, or excites.  Of course the expression 'life of the party' invokes its opposite: this party is dead, it is boring, it is not stimulating...  

The ghost often thinks about it as "gift-giving." They have their ideas, their art or music, their jokes or wit, or something that they share with others and which they can also not share. They are in projective identification with the parental imago and you have to get them to speak through their friends raised hopes and disappointment in order to get to the relevant ego injuries and allow them to reverse this repetition.

One patient was able to speak about how her friends might see her flakiness. They want to be around her, but she is lame, she has good ideas and cuteness and they can't "use her" and enjoy these, they will feel let down. All these can be augmented to ego and object statements : "I want to be with you, but you are lame, I want to keep using you, and you're letting me down." She had two people that came to mind with this. One is more recent and the former was a love interest from a few years ago. However, it's likely that when the relations with these two are explored, that there will be a parental ego injury or "defusion" from earlier in life.

The "exciting" parental imago which the person assumed in PI is simply another version of "the good" from a different libidinal position.

Often subject altruist "gift-givers" who help and assist others can get burnt out, feel used, and depressed and they can also become flakey and let friends down.

The altruists/echoists can often come off as ecstatic, hyper, manic, animated, lively, spazzy, etc. but will then get to the point where they become "dead," empty, have nothing to give,


Mike Eigen's thought is as wide-ranging as the sky and his storm rolled into this area back in the 90s and he's still has lightning flashes of insight after the article Psychic Deadness.

THE SENSE OF BEING DEAD has become a popular clinical theme. More people than in the past seek help for feeling dead. Although feeling dead is a central complaint of many individuals, it is not clear where this deadness comes from, or what can be done about it.
There are many variations of psychic deadness. For some people, deadness does not consume much psychic space. It is a circumscribed counterpole or subtheme in a fuller, richer existence. It comes and goes or nags in the background. At times it becomes prepossessing, and one wonders (with a chill) what one would do if it swallowed existence, if it became all there was. One waits for it to fade and usually it does. It moves along with a variety of moods and states of being.
Some people have pockets of deadness that are relatively constant. They get used to living with areas of deadness. They wish they were more alive, that life offered more, but they make do with their portion. If life is decent enough, a bit of deadness is not too much to pay for satisfactions. One adapts to being less than one might be, to feeling less than one might feel. One talks oneself into imagining one is about as happy as one can be, as happy as one is going to be. One more or less succeeds in believing oneself, since one fears (rightly) that things could be worse.
For some people, the sense of deadness is pervasive. They describe themselves as zombies, the walking dead, empty and unable to feel. 

If the active person, with the deep object of perfection, can identify with the perfection of the parental imago to exhibit grandiosity, arrogance, and superiority, we also know that they often can feel inferiority in self-criticism, although this can often be externalized onto others (which is very common with 'dry drunks' in addiction). The passive pole, with the deep object of Death, follows similar suit. Following Eigen, we can have the aliveness, the gift-giving, the over abundance of energy, the ecstatic when the person becomes the parental imago. However, then these people move to the deadness and can't sustain the aliveness any more than the egoist can sustain his superiority or grandiosity. Then there is the further movement when this deadness is projected out. The person talks about the "deadness" of the city or country they live in and how it is so boring, or they talk about other people, ideas, or other aspects of life this way. They can also have general sadness about the state of the world, in the subject altruist variation, and project their deadness out as the coldness of the world and lack of care and lack of love in society, in other people, etc.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Perfection and Death: the good, dead object

"Only the good die young"

The parental imago of Death for the echoist is tied to a "good object." Good object is so general, because what is good is very different depending on one's libidinal position. However, for the subject altruist, it is the nurturing, pure, kind, and protective parental-substitute.

It can be an ego injury if the beloved good object dies or leaves, and also if the beloved good object doesn't give one the love or protection that one depends on.

In projective identification, the people who have assertiveness issues and problems saying no to others have become the good/dead parental imago. They imagine that saying no, or not giving to those in their life who ask for their help will result in those people being angry with them, thinking they are selfish, and not wanting to be close to them any more. Invariably, they experienced these feelings themselves with their parents or parental-substitutes in the past and defended against this injury with PI.

I can't back this up with clinical data yet, but it seems like the actual death or departure of the good parental imago is what leads to the mania that belongs to the subject altruist. Identification with literal  Death/departure seems to go with a compensatory overproduction of energy. Of course this state is also tied to a primitive imago due to its relation to bodily energy (as opposed to relations to others). This mania has powerful sense of merger with the environment and Death is also loss of the boundaries of self.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

foreheads and dissociated identities.

I wait for something to happen 3 times before I let myself get excited about formalizing a technique or a concept.

There are several I've had lately, but I'm saving them for some papers, and haven't put them up. Additionally, confidentiality is an issue. I will change names and details so people can't be identified, but if someone reads their vignette, they would know it was them. I wouldn't want a post to interfere with treatment.

Anyway, 3 times now, while getting into anger, a patient has felt tensions in his or her forehead and it hasn't increased or decreased, but just held. I ask them to imagine what something or someone would look like if he/she/it looked like their forehead felt (if it looked externally, like they feel internally), and 3 times it has been a male aggressor (and a fourth time I am not yet counting, it was a gargoyle). In each of these times the patient was able to describe in detail the angry look of the person who came out of their forehead and then afterwards they were able to feel the gestures, emotions, physiognomy, etc. map onto their own body and integrate the man (and gargoyle). In each of the cases it resulted in the erasure of their dissociated anger (which shows up when they are backed into a corner or need to protect someone). Otherwise they are echoists and "lovers and not fighters" and the anger in them is wild and not in harmony with their economics of libido.

I've had the thought that Athena from the head of Zeus is a reversal and that it is really Zeus coming from the head of Athena as it is with these patients.

While the forehead has held an aggressive, dissociated identity (even if used for protection), the chest is very common for holding representations of other people (children, other adults) that can be angry, sad, and have other feelings.

The importance of the chest is pushing me to look into respiratory and inhalation papers in classic psychoanalysis.

I can also say that the shoulders are an important zone and have often been key to mapping on the physiognomy of demons, hunchbacks, bats and other productions from patients.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Adler on belonging

Despite his strong advocacy for the aggressive drive and the will to power, that made Freud remark that he had “no place at all for love” in his theory, Adler does have some interesting passages on belonging and altruism ("the feeling of giving"). 

It is almost like Adler focusses on the ego drives (both active and passive) while Freud emphasized the object drives.

longing for belonging can easily be about longing for love in the romantic relationship

striving for perfection can easily be about being the sole possessor of the love object, as it is about possessing a good reputation in one's office, field, society, or history.
"Since true happiness is inseparable from the feeling of giving, it is clear that a social person is much closer to happiness than the isolated person striving for superiority. Individual Psychology has very clearly pointed out that everyone who is deeply unhappy, the neurotic and the desolate person stem from among those who were deprived in their younger years of being able to develop the feeling of community, the courage, the optimism, and the self-confidence that comes directly from the sense of belonging. This sense of belonging that cannot be denied anyone, against which there are no arguments, can only be won by being involved, by cooperating, and experiencing, and by being useful to others. Out of this emerges a lasting, genuine feeling of worthiness." (From "Individual Psychology," 1926).

Thursday, April 20, 2017

liberals in America

I had a post months back on the insight that conservatives in America, as opposed to all other first world nations, have stopped universal healthcare and keep alive the idea that others should die from their choices. "The government shouldn't come in to protect them, the government does everything badly, and better to have people die than to let the government encroach on our lives too much." Also, they don't think it's bad to accuse the government of instituting "death panels" in their design for socialized medicine and project their own intentions onto the government.

Depending on your character, you either think this is horrible, or you see the "great game," the "contest," and a representation of "spirit" as it manifests in the active pole. From the potlatch in the most primitive political-economies this kind of spirit has been visible and can't be denied by any thinking person...

But I'm writing because an article appeared on a list I'm on, that I thought was the nice inversion of this. Here we have a liberal who is saying that he and all other liberals have to kill themselves.
In the final paragraph we get the answer for the left. More love of the Other. Love of the oppressed and downtrodden.

Instead of understanding the right in order to give them a new contest and game- one that is above mere accumulation of wealth and one that could take no delight in the death of the poor or the conning of the dull- the left doubles down on the oppressed.

They will kill their egoism and the desire to find whatever happiness they can in the system, and they will rescue mom because dad is bad, and they can't trust that he will do it. If they can't rescue mom, then they will make themselves suffer and understand her suffering until they might get the chance. How can they enjoy themselves when the mother who gave them life is unhappy. This would be a disgrace.  


Stephen Sheehi
Whitey is in the White House. Whitey is in Congress. Whitey is in law enforcement. Whitey is in ours churches, in our synagogues, and yes, in our mosques. Whitey is in the classrooms as readily as the board room. Whitey resides as easily in Newsweek than as in the National Review or Breitbart. Whitey is in New York and Los Angeles as frequently as he is in Scranton and Charleston. Look in the mirror because that is where Whitey is. You and me. We all conjured Whitey to power and now we have to fuckin’ kill Whitey*.  But, remember, Whitey does not die. You only kill him in perpetual deaths.
The Confederacy Has Won
Whitey is a vampiric fascist fuck, who is only killed until the next sequel (slavery, Jim Crow South, Reaganomics, the Contract on America, the Neocons, the Trumpocracy). While Whitey is not singular or partisan, we must focus on the Trumpocalypse: Whitey-in-Chief, Team-Whitey, and its deconstructed state, which is the embodiment of the victorious Confederacy.
Confederacy now dominates Whitey’s Cabinet: Jeff Sessions (AL), Rex Tillerson (TX), Sonny Perdue (GA), Tom Price (GA), Mick Mulvaney (SC), Andrew Puzder (TN), Elaine Chao (married to Mitch McConnell, KY), Rick Perry (TX), Niki Haley (SC) and Linda McMahon, born and raised in North Carolina.
I hear Whitey, “Stephen, you are playing the regional card. The Orange Scoundrel is a well-known racist and son of a slumlord.” No, I am saying that, if you want to understand the politics of this current regime including the Republican Party, you best look at the history, political discourse, phantasy, and desires of the Confederacy and the South, which especially hinges on the deflecting discourse of “states’ rights.”
Listen to the language of the Confederacy and understand the afterlives of its burning phantasy in the South. The South is a place where Whitey segregates his own racism and gives self-affirmation to his own liberalism, Whitey’s version of soft power. Whitey’s liberal smugness deafened us to hear “the South will rise again” for what it is: a threat and a disclosure of Whitey’s repressed desire for white supremacy, locked away below the Mason Dickson’s racial unconscious. And while liberal Whitey rolled his eyes at the Stars and Bars (in a discomforting, unconscious fear of disclosure), people of color always held that anxiety of self-knowledge for him. Liberal smugness dampened the full resonance of what is meant by “states’ rights,” which we hear clearly now as the discordance of “deconstructing” the state in order to leave no obstacle (“regulations”) to Whitey’s race privilege and no protection from Whitey’s full psychopathic desire and avarice.
How to Kill Whitey
Whitey is about identification(s). Whitey is about politics and about economics. But Whitey is also about the psyche and the unconscious. Whitey is in us all, no matter what race, class, gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. We all harbor Whitey’s desires, Whitey’s love of capital, Whitey’s pathological obsession with individualism. We all are cops. We all want to snitch on the Anarchists, who are either “lawbreakers” or wreck our “kumbaya” by visibly (and bravely) challenging the state’s monopoly on violence. Pacifist and liberal Whitey jumps to delegitimize violence as a political tool because it causes dissonance in Whitey’s unconscious. Liberal Whitey disavows violence. He calls the cops on skateboarders, “looters and pie-throwers” but also on the hooded black teenager who walks at night, Skittles in hand, through our gated communities. Deep down, we know that we are beneficiaries of state violence, capitalist individualism, and racial and class hierarchy, all the while holding our protest signs.
Yet, while there are many places Whitey resides, we move from the most immediate to eventually arrive at the camouflaged. Right now, Whitey’s most imminent threat is in a white enthnonationalist White House, where unabashed anti-Semites and racists, women-haters, and climate change deniers flash white supremacist signs and talk of states’ rights and alt-facts.
We kill Whitey by resisting economic models of governance, states’ rights, and the logic of the security state. Do not cooperate.  Not with Republicans. Not with Democrats who want to search for “middle” or “common ground” with the “reasonable” opposition. That is Whitey mediating his power. Our weapons, at this point, are only obfuscation, resistance, attrition, organization, and mobilization. Listen to the impossible, to voices that you dismissed as “unreasonable,” as “idealistic,” as not “winnable.” If you are confused by the vertigo of losing power, be quiet, be brave, and listen to that feeling of your falling. That is the world that black and brown people feel from day to day in the United States. That is the feeling of living under occupation by Whitey. But from that space arises a power to resist, to transform. In the free fall, the choice exists to relinquish privilege or identify with it (hence, the terms reactionary or revolutionary). From that space, we exorcise identifications with Whitey by following the seditious love for the Other. We push through Whitey’s vampiric embrace to embrace what you can never understand: the pain of the Other, a pain that Whitey created. Allow yourself to sit with that tension, guilt, and realization of the true topography of White privilege. From that perpetual realization, Whitey will never be safe.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Some more clinical examples in altruism.

As with the examples of self-sabotage in which you play the consequences of the patient's behavior forward until they build the place that they think they will end up, it's also relevant to build representations from bodily sensations and ask the patient to bring Time to bear upon them.

Client talks about being a good person who has faith in others and is hopeful, and that he has positive energy. He mentions that others “latch on to him:” both other good people and "users." Users want his help, see that they can gain from him, and hope to get “extra” from him. I tell him that it sounds like he a surplus of, or extra, energy, money, or positivity to spare in his life and people see that in him, but I then ask if he ever feels depleted. He says he can feel “burnt out, like he’s run thin, frustrated, disappointed, and not feel appreciated."
He spontaneously tells me that he is one of the only employees that comes in to work on his own time and that he does a lot of extra for his boss. Then he tells me how his boss wanted him to come in for more extra hours that he wouldn’t be paid for and that he was pretty frustrated.
I begin EMDR after I hear the anger in his voice about this, and I ask him to feel his bodily responses. He says he feels it in his chest and it grows. I tell him to picture his boss and say all the things he wants to without holding back. He does but then reports that the representation of his boss, in his mind's eye, looks disappointed after he did this.
I ask him to put together the implicit thoughts of the boss's feelings towards him. Client say that he’s disappointed in him, that he used to go that extra mile, and that he used to be better.
I ask him to turn these into ego and object-statements ("I am disappointed in you, you used to go that extra mile and now you don't, you used to be better"), and client says his ex-girlfriend comes up. He explains how she had “invested more” and went the extra mile in the first 6 months but then she didn’t give as much. I ask him to focus on the time that he felt disappointed in her and I begin EMDR, and he feels it again in his chest, but also in his jaw. The sense of it in his jaw grows. He mentions that it feels like he can’t move his jaw and like it’s made of stone. I ask him to take the internal felt sense and say how it might look externally, if a person looked like he felt. 
He begins describing a man with “sunken eyes” who looks "sad." He said he literally looks like a picture and is totally still. Client says he “doesn’t expect him to move”. I ask him to fast forward this image of him and what would happen in this man’s future. Client said he pictures him slowly “disintegrating:” starting from his head down-- that the stone man would just be blown to dust.  Writer asks him to picture the dust that he disintegrates into and to see if he can map it onto his body (the zones he was are of) in any way. Client says he can and then his face turns red and writer asks him if it is done and he says yes.

He said he felt in his chest and he pictured his heat turning to dust but then after it was fully disintegrated, that it emerged full and new. Writer asked him to focus on this new heart and to see how it wants to change the rest of his body. He says the tension in his jaw and chest are gone and he feels like he can move his tongue too. He said he felt tension from his hands go away and that he doesn’t feel like anything wants to change or is changing further. I ask him to float back to another time he felt like this in his life and tries to install the picture of well-being he associates to.

In altruism, the representation of the parental imagos can often be as "dumb," "silly," "underestimated," or "taken for granted".  Joe from Great Expectations is a good example. He is a good imago and has this coloring from the altruistic pole, but instead of idealization within the active pole of power/prestige/perfection, he is seen as dumb, lower class, and coarse. 
This is a phallic mother/combined parental imago/ or deutero representation of the parental imago and shows up with good frequency. 

Client is with a woman who has severe mental health issues and who has done very hurtful things to him and he is unable to leave her, although he has good reasons to that he can admit.   
She can say horribly mean things to him in her fits of rage. He feels like he's begun to hysterically adopt her anxiety and can feel himself fighting not to mirror her fits of rage at other points.

I note that these are bad traits or problems and asks client if it feels like he's trying to take them on for her in some way. 

Despite my failing to articulate this well, client agrees enthusiastically with this, but says that she doesn't see how much he does.

I ask him to complete the sentence... if she could see how much I took on her pains and problems then she might...?

He says "care more, not take me for granted, not be so selfish or spoiled."

I ask him to put these into ego and object-statements ("I should care more, I took you for granted, I've been selfish and spoiled, I didn't see how much you've done for me...") and he says that his family comes to mind, he names a few people, and I ask him to focus on who sticks out the most. he says his grandmother.

He says that "she stuck by my side my whole life" and "she gave me chance after chance and went above and beyond." "I slapped her in the face."

I ask him to picture her in his mind's eye and how she would be looking upon him if she was here.

He says she looks perfect and that she's smiling and he begins crying.

I tell him to picture her and to articulate the remorse he feels and express it to her. I begin EMDR, and he does so.

He then says that she looks angry and disappointed.

He talks about the last time he talked to her and how she hung up the phone on him

I ask him if it feels true if he says "I deserve to be cut off," and he says it does.

He then adds that he pushed her to the point that she had to cut him off. He then adds that he's not talking to his child nor family. I interpret that he's being like his grandmother is to him, with his family, and that he's like she was with him before, with his girlfriend.

This seems to click for him and I ask him to try to talk to her representation again and tell her what he feels. I begin EMDR.

He says that she forgives hm and she loves him.

I ask him to scan his body to see if he's holding on to anything else. He says that his heart feels different and so does his breath.

He says he feels excitement and love but also just serene.

I'm not touting this as a cure for the client being able to leave this relationship. There are many parts of the personality involved in connecting a person to their bad situation. This is just one part cleared up and the other parts have to be attended to. 

Similarly, when the patient experienced a major trauma or ego injury, there is not just one part that was injured. I have had to go back to major events several times from the angles of different parts of psychic bisexuality. 


Monday, February 20, 2017

Marx on the reactionary Donald Trump

Driven by the contradictory demands of his situation, and being at the same time, like a juggler, under the necessity of keeping the public gaze on himself, [with his promises to make America great again], by springing constant surprises – that is to say, under the necessity of arranging a coup d’état in miniature every day – [Trump] throws the whole bourgeois economy into confusion, violates everything that seemed inviolable to the [the conservatives of the deified, anti-Russian Ronald Regan], makes some tolerant of revolution and makes others lust for it, and produces anarchy in the name of order, while at the same time stripping the entire state machinery of its halo, profaning it and making it at once loathsome and ridiculous. 

The [Trump] dynasty represents not the revolutionary, but the conservative [worker]; not the [worker] who strikes out beyond the condition of his social existence, [the factory or mining job], but rather one who wants to consolidate [these professions]; not the [minimum wage workers] who in alliance with the [urban youth) want to overthrow the old order through their own energies, but on the contrary those who, in solid seclusion within this old order, want to see themselves and their [blue collar jobs] saved and favored by the ghost of the Empire. It represents not the enlightenment but the superstition of the peasant; not his judgment but his prejudice; not his future but his past...