An ANTIDOTE to CYNICISM
This article is a response to my recent posting called: LOVE HIM or HATE HIM: PRESIDENT OBAMA HAS IT!
I was surprised by the intensity of vilification towards the President. It appears that the President has triggered a wave of disappointment in some of his backers. Assuming I am right that he is a rare leader of integrity - not perfect but integrated - I imagine that the disappointment is a result of missed expectations.
Most people agree that the President has a gift to inspire - to raise our sights - to envision that we can change for the better - yet at the same, we as a collective have a time frame as to when these changes are expected to come about.
Since the President has carefully warned all of us that the changes he has proposed will no doubt take a great deal of reasonable time to reach fruition, the current escalating outrage that these changes have not come about yet are, in my point of view, symptomatic of a large part of the voting population being no more psychologically developed than would be expected from a bright but immature nine year old.
Developmental psychology (i.e. Piaget - clearly demonstrates the fact that up to about the age of 10 years old, most children (and many adults stuck at that developmental level) are unable to view reality in complex terms. Instead they view reality in either/or dichotomous terms such as all right or all wrong; all good or all bad; perfect or imperfect.
For those who are under ten this is a normal fact of life which begins to shift with advancing age and experience.However, for those adults who are in the grips of black white dichotomous thinking, this is a symptom of immaturity at best probably motivated by the need to oversimplify complex reality. It is the psychology of the self righteous who prefer to believe in a concept of absolute truth, absolute power, absolute moral superiority, and of absolute absolute. This is clearly not the President's view of reality.
I am alarmed in viewing a strong tendency in this country to extol the virtues of the pleasure principle - the mantra of the child: I want what I want when I want it and I expect no interference - I should never be frustrated by anyone and if my wants are not immediately satisfied I will turn my wrath on you and yours.
By contrast, integrated adults also want what they want when they want to have it but also know that Reality is often not so compliant. For these mature adults significant change comes about but is more often the result of difficult incremental work than resulting from magical immediate breakthroughs. Progress is like World War I - trench warfare - 15 trenches ahead, and 10 back.
You can see this collective immaturity all around. You can see it with the drug manufacturers whose greedy need for profit at any cost insists that normal frustration, anxiety, depression, the need to struggle with struggle is caused by a 'chemical imbalance' and can be relieved or at at least masked by popping a pill.They know better as their alarming placebo studies indicate. These studies demonstrate that 75 percent of the effectiveness of anti depressants is due to raising the positive expectations in the pill user.
The avalanche of ads beamed at the anxious, the depressed, the frustrated among us urge the sufferer to 'talk' to their doctor about the special pill of the week. And presumably the doctor will 'talk' back and either prescribe the pill or refer you to a psychiatrist who most likely will write out a prescription.
In the old days - the sufferer and his doctor would indeed talk but not so much about which pill to pop. Rather they would talk about the problems the sufferer was experiencing. And often this kind of personal talk would be enough to allay the anxiety and the depression of the patient.
In this connection I have been appalled to find out that at a prestigious university in New York that Freud is all but unmentioned. Worse, when he is it is in the context of the father of psychoanalysis - an outmoded, too expensive, overly intellectual excursion into the patient's past which has no relevance in their present. For them who should know better - Freud and long term psychoanalysis is dead.
So as I witness the fury of the mob acting like disappointed teenagers realizing their father (President Obama - the father of the country) isn't the ideal perfect parent they expected him to be, I am brought back to my own experience with my own fury towards my imperfect father and how this immature perspective has been significantly changed after many years of working on myself.
In this connection I offer the following:
I find the whole notion of dismissing Freud's extraordinary contribution in helping truth-seeking individuals attempt to objectify their subjective chaos, the quintessence of closed mindedness. As a once troubled youth who became a more troubled man, I sought out professional help many times. The first was a four-year psychotherapy experience, twice a week, with a noted Sullivanian therapist. I left therapy with essentially the same unresolved problem I had upon beginning, believing that my sorry condition was equivalent to existential reality and that I would just have to learn to tough it out. My next attempt to cut through my fog was with a Gestalt therapist who I saw twice a week for two years. I felt a certain trust for him as a human being, a step up for me, but I again gained little insight into my unidentified core difficulty. I went to many group therapy sessions, became immersed in the esoteric occult, enrolled in graduate school and became a psychoanalytic psychotherapist. Finally, no longer willing to tolerate a deep depression, I sought out and found a classical psychoanalyst.
On my first visit I felt as if I had known him all my life. That instant rapport attunement experience never changed over a period of eleven years, three times a week, on the couch, no insurance. He had fled Nazi Germany a number of years ago having spoken no English and studied to be a Freudian analyst. He was the first person to finally accurately diagnose my complex problem and lay out a road map with a set of comprehensible directions as to how together we might make a potentially salutary journey into my inner space.
In the course of our work I learned to cathect (make come alive) my inner reality. I connected to my passionate id, my weak and fragile ego, my punitive, primitive super ego, my almost non existent self, my sharpened intuition, my dogged persistence in the face of a life time of bleakness and despair, my lack of psychic structure, and most importantly my personal unconscious. I learned how to make my dreams useful in understanding my patent contradictions. I learned how I was a captive to my traumatic past and how not being loved had left me with severe emotional and intellectual scarring. I experienced how ghosts of my past were haunting me in my blurry present taking the form of compulsively repeating theme and variation of my childhood and adolescent nightmares. I realized how I was daily acting out the Hamlet problem of to be or not to be - the outcome always tenuous and uncertain. I learned that Freud's supposed absurd death wish concept was a very real central fact of my life.
As I gradually learned to master the foreign language of psychoanalysis, including such concepts as positive and negative transference, psychological boundaries, and projected authority, (experiencing them not simply as disembodied ideas used as heuristic devices to play inconsequential mind games) rather, these concepts became for me vividly bright beacons to light the dark recesses of my deadened soul. Gradually, session by session, connection by connection, I came to understand my own process by which I tried to make sense out of what often appeared to me to be sheer non sense. As I learned how to identify the splits in myself and to trace them back to their traumatic origins, viewing them through the perspective of adult eyes, I began accessing and liberating suppressed and repressed energies, desires, strangulated wishes, and simple wants and needs. This led to finally being able to change the course of my life's trip to go in a direction that I had longed to travel but had all but given up hope that I would be able to do so. I have no doubt that my psychoanalytic experience was both as process and as outcome: a rich tapestry of science and art (a combination of accumulated practical wisdom filtered down through history.)
There was not one word of mumbo jumbo. I was free and encouraged to challenge anything and everything said and done, verifying all that I heard on a daily basis. Obviously I am an impassioned advocate and could extol the virtues of my grand experience for a long, long time. But I believe I have said enough to make my point. Thus, in the light of my hard won victory, I find it utterly impossible to conceive of dismissing, let alone burying Freud when he and some of his successors through, and with the addition of my beloved analyst: Dr. Rudolf Wittenberg, were directly responsible for enabling me to rise from the dead.
It is perhaps too bad that life is indeed a struggle and is sometimes overwhelmingly complex and complicated whether planned that way or the result of randomness - but this is the undeniable truth of the matter.
Such a perspective as this has vast implications for the potential realization of peace. War would stop in 5 minutes if everyone would assume the responsibility of descending into their inner space - identify the inevitable splits and contradictions that exist - and dedicate themselves to working to make themselves whole and integrated.
Imagine what life would be like if everyone followed this path.