Glissandothe Court Jester Bisexual Brouhaha

After reflecting on the camera, Kohut reported some transferential interactions. His analysand ended one session with unprecedented emotion, sharing that he could now converse freely with colleagues and relate warmly with his wife and children. He noticed he occasionally spoke with his analyst's voice, words, and humane attitude. These gains he attributed to his therapist's influence. Kohut responded that he was glad to hear of all this.

Launching the next session with a vigorous attack, the analysand alleged that dogmatic, sometimes deranged, analysts forced opinions on patients. Kohut suggested this tirade related to the analysand's gratitude in the previous session.

An analyst approaching this material from a classical perspective might hypothesize that the patient's new feeling of masculine, identificatory closeness may have stimulated homosexual fantasies, anxieties, and defenses. Although fervently desired, greater relaxation, openness, and emotionality might simultaneously have made the analysand feel more feminine—a vulnerable position to be in with a potentially "crazy" analyst.

The specter of a beloved, but possibly eccentric, unstable therapist forcing opinions on a troubled, dependent patient may have been reminiscent of the analysand's mother forcing her queer beliefs concerning enemas into him. He had come to realize that his mother was "a little crazy" (p. 142). He frequently viewed analysis in identical terms. Fear of rectal assault by a not always easily understood, phallic, intrusive parent may have stimulated a counterdependent, aggressively guarded, anal expulsive defense now manifested in his tirade about crazy psychoanalysts.

These two sides of the coin (wish-fear, masculine-feminine, active-passive) recall the symbolism of the camera. Like other objects that can penetrate the surrounding, yielding medium while also having a capacity to contain (e.g., cars, boats, shoes), it can be a bisexual symbol. Both phallic and feminine, it is like the penetrating/receptive eye itself. In keeping with its feminine facet, the word camera comes from the feminine, Latin noun camera, meaning a vaulted room (enclosed, feminine space).

Whether proudly exhibiting new capacities for warm, open, emotional, verbal intercourse with men, women, and children in front of his analyst or flashing his box-like device with its prominent, protruding, central aperture at the aroused, admiring audience, the analysand may have been tempted to drop his defenses, relax his emotional sphincter even further, leaving his little shutter ajar for more than a split second, allowing more than a little light to penetrate his dark hole, the symbolic portal, perhaps, to the unexplored, "dark continent" (Freud, 1926/1959b, p. 212) of his femininity. Such risky temptations may have stimulated anxiety/desire that his analyst, no doubt crazy like some others he had heard about, might in turn be tempted to force more than just a rigid opinion into him much as his mother had inserted more than simply her views about the anal etiology of mental disturbances into his posterior invagination.

Bridge over Troubled Waters

"Without any logical bridge" (Kohut, 1984, p. 122), Kohut's patient proceeded to recount a vivid memory of a grueling mock court from his student days. Terrified, he had turned the tables on the usually brutally critical audience by pursuing a seemingly erroneous route and then revealing suddenly, to everyone's surprise, that he had misled them. As a result of his cunning coup de theater, the usual critique following the trial bypassed the analysand to his great relief. From this tale, Kohut concluded that the analysand's habit of shaming and stunning others when he feared being shamed and stunned was deeply engrained.

By now it will perhaps not be surprising to find that Kohut did not allude to the fact that his patient had, yet again, managed to underscore the triadic nature of his object relational conflict. On this occasion, triangularity was represented by the highly charged relationship between prosecution, defense, and audience. The latter entity—somewhat excluded, keenly observing, action-oriented—watched in a heightened state of arousal, ever ready to pounce on the other participants (with scathing criticism). Clearly the spectators got off on this passionate mode of involvement.

In a self-protective tour de force, the analysand may have led not only the mock court down the garden path but his analyst as well. This evocative trial memory emerged after Kohut interpreted the defensive (paranoid) need to mount a vigorous attack following unprecedented expression of warmth. The analysand's previous therapist had been given to waxing enthusiastically about anality including anal orgasm. That gentleman's orientation may have been reminiscent of the patient's mother's fondly held theory of the anal etiology of mental disturbances, with her corresponding passion for inserting tubes into posterior portals. Given the well-known associations between paranoia, homosexuality, and anality, the analysand may have had unsettling premonitions as to where Kohut's seemingly gentle interpretive line about his paranoia may have been heading.

Introducing the mock trial memory "without any logical bridge," the crucial psychological bridge may have been the need to hoodwink Kohut, to lead him astray with a stunning red herring, exactly as he had once thrown the prosecution off his tail. Adroitly conjuring up a time when, on behalf of the "defense," a clever stratagem had served him well in warding off intensely persecutory, phallic anxieties, these tried and true defenses appeared to have worked equally well with his second analyst.

Testing, Testing

In terms of control-mastery theory (Weiss, Sampson, & the Mount Zion Psychotherapy Research Group, 1986), Kohut's patient may have sprung a subtle test on his analyst when he launched his verbal assault after having expressed unprecedented warmth and gratitude. Correctly intuiting that this rant was reactive to that progress, Kohut interpreted this likelihood. By not having taken offense and not adopting a persecutory counterattack, Kohut passed that exam. Kohut's therapeutic skill was, no doubt, simultaneously reassuring and threatening to the patient because it would help him to relax, drawing him closer to his admired analyst.

Because of the continuing element of anxiety intrinsic to Kohut's having survived the tirade test, the analysand may have felt a need to resort to a new line of defense. The analysand may have felt compelled to create a subsequent, subtler exam. This second test, embedded in the mock trial memory, may have been intended as a real, continuing trial of his analyst, an experiment aimed at misleading Kohut away from more threatening issues. In Trial 2, we, the readers, become the keenly observing spectators in the case of analyst versus artful dodger.

Advocating for the defense of his status quo, the analysand would have wanted to win this control-mastery trial (a term that unintentionally but neatly evokes the sexualized, dominance-submission, transferential struggle). This desire to come out on top would obtain even if it mocked not only the analyst but also the analytic process, culminating in mere Pyrrhic victory.

At another level, control-mastery theory would posit that the analysand would also have longed to be found out. He would have yearned for a masterful analyst who could uncover his fantasies, skillfully penetrating his defenses, so he would not keep getting away with such rearguard actions, turning the same old tricks that kept him all too securely imprisoned in his ultimately unsatisfying, missionary position. Kohut may not have passed this subtle, second test. (Of course, he may have passed it on subsequent occasions.)

Kohut selected this patient for publication to ground his effort at reformulating the concepts of resistance and defense. He presented his case for the superiority of self psychological formulation to the court of public appeal. In the halls of justice, his readers assume the role of the critical spectators in the case of Kohut versus classical analysis. He did not articulate why this patient seemed especially suitable for this project. Perhaps he sensed that this analysand's self-protective maneuvers were particularly pervasive, interesting, subtle, or challenging. The mock trial memory suggests this may have been the case as does the elusiveness to Kohut of the patient's psychosexuality, particularly his Oedipal complex. Kohut may have intuited that even though he never came "face to face with the resistances that constitute clinical manifestations of the defense against castration anxiety" (p. 128), such factors may, nonetheless, have been operative. Taking him literally, he never said those issues were absent, only that he could not discern them. Consciously, he believed these defenses and the underlying complex were simply not there. Unconsciously, he may have sensed otherwise. (It would be hard to imagine, for example, that Kohut did not, at some level, entertain the hypothesis of dreaded/desired sexual violation when he interpreted his patient's postgratitude assault on the analytic process, although one cannot know for certain.)

A prominent London Kleinian, O'Shaughnessy (1989), criticized Kohut's tendency to consider that when an Oedipus complex is not apparent, it does not exist and his consequently advocating a restoration technique. In contrast, she stated the Kleinian view that when an Oedipus complex is "invisible," it is not because it is unimportant but "because it is so important and felt by the patient ... to be so unnegotiable that he employs psychic means to make and keep it invisible" (p. 129). In reviewing O'Shaughnessy's essay, Chasseguet-Smirgel (1991) concurred that this was "a point no non-Kohutian analyst would want to question" (p. 729).

These considerations give rise to the following query: How can what is invisible to one analyst be so visible to another? The popular tale of the emperor's magnificent new duds may be relevant. Musing with respect to those who do not believe in childhood sexuality, Freud (1916/1972) noted that "It calls for real ingenuity not to see all this or to see it differently" (p. 316). Ingenuity perhaps or, I argue, an inadvertent epiphenomenon of commitment to a new theoretical model excessively separated from other frameworks. I take up these vital questions pertaining to seeing and not seeing in detail in chapter 2.

Common Ground

The analysand's father was blessed with impressive "masculine assets" (Kohut, 1984, p. 130). The father had garnered many athletic and vocational trophies. Distant and forbidding, he was not an easy model for identification. In contrast, the patient had clearly come to feel closely identified with Kohut. This positive libidinal development stimulated intense fantasies, anxieties, and defensive processes apparently related to the admirable, exciting, yet potentially abusive facets of imposing masculine assets.

By Dream 2, the analysand may have been more comfortable identifying with men in general and with his father and analyst in particular. Receiving an award for career prowess, as his father had done, he shared the prize. As in the transference, this identificatory closeness with father (older gentleman sitting next to him) may have aroused homosexual anxiety, stimulating a need to seize control, sticking it to the audience counterphobically (especially to the gentleman/ father/Kohut). This sexually tinged fear of attack, provoking defensive counterattack, constitutes an alternative (complementary) hypothesis to Kohut's assertion that the audience's admiration was simply experienced as a shameful, stunning assault requiring retaliation in kind.

Kohut's chapter sought to reconceptualize the fundamental ideas of resistance and defense. Classical analysis, the fons et origo of these concepts, continues to have much to offer to their elucidation even in analyses conducted primarily along other lines. Approaches estranged excessively from our rich tradition may miss crucial insights pertaining, for example, to phallic-oedipal, impulse-defense configurations. Restoration of continuing valid aspects of the classical perspective might eliminate some shortcomings, thereby magnifying the power of Kohutian formulation. Admiring looks and comments from analyst or audience might, for example, from a combined Freudian/Kohutian point of view, be experienced as pleasurable, even intensely so, and also as having potential to lead to shameful, stunning attack, especially if they are unconsciously associated with conflictual fantasies of (homo)sexual interest and invasion. Integrating self psychological with Freudian interpretation may afford more comprehensive, satisfying, therapeutically useful formulations and interventions.

Over a half century ago, Fenichel (1945) was among those who strove to integrate theories of instinct and narcissism: "Exhibitionism remains more narcissistic than any other partial instinct" (p. 72), he wrote. "Its erogenous pleasure is always connected with an increase in self-esteem, anticipated or actually gained through the fact that others look at the subject" (p. 72).

A quarter of a century before Fenichel, Freud (1920/1955b) himself, when he discussed the ending of infantile sexuality, observed that "loss of love and failure leave behind them a permanent injury to self-regard in the form of a narcissistic scar, which ... contributes more than anything else to the 'sense of inferiority' which is so common in neurotics" (pp. 20-21).

In a similar vein, Gedo and Goldberg (1973) noted that Freud regarded the threat of castration as a danger of narcissistic injury:

The gradual reduction of the child's grandiosity comes to include his phallus last of all, so that phallic exhibitionism, as well as its counterparts in females, continues to be subject to the excessive vulnerability that characterizes every aspect of the grandiose self. ... A prerequisite for the resolution of the Oedipus complex is sufficient maturation along the paths of transformation of narcissism to permit the child to tolerate the mortification caused by the collapse of his phallic grandiosity. (p. 84)

More recently, Aron (1995), following Ikonen and Rechardt (1984), noted that the primal scene involves both narcissistic injury and relational deprivation. "It therefore serves as an internal structure regulating both narcissism and object relations" (Aron, 1995, p. 207).

This longstanding interest of Freud, Fenichel, Gedo, Aron, and others in integrating theories of infantile sexuality and narcissism continues to be an important project. My contribution, like theirs, suggests and supports the idea that these realms can be complementary rather than combatively opposed.

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