Friday, 31 March 2017
Charity creates a multitude of sins. Oscar Wilde
I am listening to Arundhati Roy author of "The God of Small Things ," on Desert Island discs. She has been making the point that the poor, the homeless live in the cracks of conventional society between it's institutions and it's assumptions. I reflect that today is "random acts of kindness day" . The media is full of stories about people interpreting these acts as giving a few quid to the homeless and providing food. The truth is that these random acts do nothing to change the structural causes of homelessness and poverty. These problems can only be solved by political action and structural change. The vulnerable should not be labeled as vulnerable they should be described as the oppressed. Charity is predicated on lack of equality it makes the government feel better and yet deep down there is a relief that the giver does not have these problems that the recipient has i share the views of Oscar Wilde that the need for charity shows how unpleasant a particular society is. Christian charity has at its root the implication that poverty is the result of an individual's fate or of his or her own decisions. It is a duty to give rather than to take action on the words of the Magnificay. A truer random act of kindness would be to promote understanding, to educate yourself on others and explain while simplistic solutions are false. A random act would be to campaign for the oppressed , to walk a mile in someone's shoes...To understand that the Holy Family fleeing from Herod were refugees , that the disciples came from the ranks of the oppressed . These would be true acts if Random kindness and not an approach to deal with our own insecurities and fears...The solutions are collective and cooperative not individual ....
I am listening now to the reading of "Be like the Fox" .It's a biography of Niccolo Machiaevelli . I have always admired him and many people unfortunately have a very poor view of him, Often this is based on no reading or appreciation of his work. The book the "Prince" was written for rulers in an imperfect occupied Italy . It is advice for those living in an imperfect world , where bullies and tyrants distort and control society it talks about how to resist and challenge such individuals. Nicolo would have loved social media he would have much to offer resistors in the modern state under late capitalism. He would have much to offer us in Brexit Britain and give us the key to fight back. I have read Nicolo for over thirty years . I first discovered him because of the introduction to his work by Professor Syd Anglo nearly 40 years ago. Thanks Syd . I have been like the Fox ever since....
The goal of alchemy is not merely material, it is partly in "the Beyond", and is almost exactly similar to the goal of Taoism, where the whole effort is directed towards finding or creating Tao. ~Carl Jung, ETH, Page 143.
It [Alchemy] is the idea of producing a perfect and complete being, a being which has a redeeming effect and which has many names: panacea, medicina catholica, the philosophers' stone and innumerable other synonyms. ~Carl Jung, ETH, Page 143.
The goal which the alchemist sets himself, however, is not a direct redemption of the human being, nor is it a propitiation of the Deity nor a defence against evil. ~ Jung, ETH, Page 143.
The goal which the alchemist sets himself, however, is not a direct redemption of the human being, nor is it a propitiation of the Deity nor a defence against evil. ~Jung, ETH, Page 143.This means, applied to alchemy, that it is death to take alchemy as an external occupation, but the man who regards it as an inward experience, can live and rejoice.
~Jung, ETH, Lecture XI, Page 97.
The central idea of Taoism is no moral question, but is the Tao, the indefinable essence of the right way, and this is also the mystery of alchemy. ~Carl Jung, ETH, Page 142.
The "art of gold making" is a sort of creating of the world, or it is based on the pattern of the creation of the world, and, as in Genesis, a cosmos is fashioned from the chaos.
~Jung, ETH, Lecture XI, Page 97.The earth, in the alchemistic sense, means the body and in a double sense: chemical bodies (substances), minerals etc., and the human body. ~Jung, ETH Lectures, Page 101.
Mercury is the anima mundi, the soul of the world, and entered matter as an emanation of God, and since then it is concealed in it. ~Carl Jung, ETH, Page 180.
"Go to the streams of the river Nile and there thou wilt find a stone which has a spirit. Take this stone, divide it and put thy hand inside it and draw out its heart: for its soul is in its heart." ~Ostanes cited by Carl Jung, ETH, Page 205.
The alchemists think of the Redeemer as lying hidden or sleeping in the materia,
he does not only descend from heaven but comes also from the depths of matter.
~Carl Jung, ETH Lectures, Page 189.Every profound student of alchemy knows that the making of gold was not the real purpose and that the process was a western form of Yoga. ~Carl Jung, ETH Lecture, Page 107.
Who would have thought that the alchemists, popularly supposed to be searching for gold, were really promising themselves freedom from illusion, exaggerated emotion, passion, excess and all possible vices? ~Carl Jung, ETH, Lecture XIII, Page 108.
There can hardly be any doubt that not a few of those seekers had the dawning knowledge that the secret nature of the stone was man's own self. This "self"was evidently never thought of as an entity identical with the ego, and for this reason it was described as a "hidden nature" dwelling in inanimate matter, as a spirit, daemon, or fiery spark. ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Page 94.
In alchemy the egg stands for the chaos apprehended by the artifex, the prima materia containing the captive world-soul. Out of the egg — symbolized by the round cooking vessel — will rise the eagle or phoenix, the liberated soul, which is ultimately identical with the Anthropos who was imprisoned in the embrace of Physis. ~Carl Jung; Psychology and Alchemy; Page 202.
Anna Freud, in The Ego and The Mechanisms of Defence (1946), formulates the hypothesis that what the ego fears most is the return to a previous stage of fusion with the id, in case repression fails or instincts are too intense. In order to ensure the maintenance of the level of organization achieved, the ego has to protect itself from the invasion of instinctual demands (drives) of the id and from the return of the repressed contents.
In fact, in the chapter "The Ego's Dependent Relations", in The Id and the Ego (1923), Freud says: "psychoanalysis is the instrument to enable the ego to achieve a progressive conquest of the id".
Psychoanalysis aims at transforming greater amounts of what once belonged to the id into acceptable possessions of the ego, along with its main purpose of turning unconscious contents into conscious ones. Thus, the mind can find solutions that were previously unattainable to th
The major defense mechanisms are the following:
1. Repression - the withdrawal from consciousness of an unwanted idea, affect, or desire by pushing it into the unconscious part of the mind.
2. Reaction formation - the fixation in consciousness of an idea, affect, or desire that is opposite to a feared unconscious impulse.
3. Projection - unwanted feelings are attributed to another person.
4. Regression - a return to forms of gratification belonging to earlier phases, due to conflicts arising at more developed stages.
5. Rationalization - the substitution of the true, but threatening cause of behavior for a safe and reasonable explanation.
6. Denial - the conscious refusal to perceive disturbing facts. It deprives the individual of the necessary awareness to cope with external challenges and the employment of adequate strategies for survival as well.
7. Displacement- the redirection of an urge onto a substitute outlet.
8. Undoing - is achieved through an act, which goal is the cancellation of a prior unpleasant experience.
9. Introjection - intimately related to identification, aims at solving some emotional difficulty of the individual by means of taking into his personality characteristics of someone else.
10. Sublimation - part of the energy invested in sexual impulses is shifted to the pursuit of socially valuable achievements, such as artistic or scientific endeavor
j ust as we tend to assume that the world is as we see it, we naïvely suppose that people are as we imagine them to be. … All the contents of our unconscious are constantly being projected into our surroundings, and it is only by recognizing certain properties of the objects as projections or imagos that we are able to distinguish them from the real properties of the objects. … Cum grano salis, we always see our own unavowed mistakes in our opponent. Excellent examples of this are to be found in all personal quarrels. Unless we are possessed of an unusual degree of self-awareness we shall never see through our projections but must always succumb to them, because the mind in its natural state presupposes the existence of such projections. It is the natural and given thing for unconscious contents to be projected. [“General Aspects of Dream Psychology,” ibid., par. 507.]
Projection means the expulsion of a subjective content into an object; it is the opposite of introjection. Accordingly, it is a process of dissimilation, by which a subjective content becomes alienated from the subject and is, so to speak, embodied in the object. The subject gets rid of painful, incompatible contents by projecting them. [“Definitions,” CW 6, par. 783.]
Projection is not a conscious process. One meets with projections, one does not make them.The general psychological reason for projection is always an activated unconsciousthat seeks expression. [“The Tavistock Lectures,” CW 18, par. 352.]
It is possible to project certain characteristics onto another person who does not possess them at all, but the one being projected upon may unconsciously encourage it.It frequently happens that the object offers a hook to the projection, and even lures it out. This is generally the case when the object himself (or herself) is not conscious of the quality in question: in that way it works directly upon the unconscious of the projicient. For all projections provoke counter-projections when the object is unconscious of the quality projected upon it by the subject. [“General Aspects of Dream Psychology,” CW 8, par. 519.]
Through projection one can create a series of imaginary relationships that often have little or nothing to do with the outside world.he effect of projection is to isolate the subject from his environment, since instead of a real relation to it there is now only an illusory one. Projections change the world into the replica of one’s own unknown face. In the last analysis, therefore, they lead to an autoerotic or autistic condition in which one dreams a world whose reality remains forever unattainable. [“The Shadow,” CW 9ii, par. 17.]
Projection also has positive effects. In everyday life it facilitates interpersonal relations. In addition, when we assume that some quality or characteristic is present in another, and then, through experience, find that this is not so, we can learn something about ourselves. This involves withdrawing or dissolving projections.
So long as the libido can use these projections as agreeable and convenient bridges to the world, they will alleviate life in a positive way. But as soon as the libido wants to strike out on another path, and for this purpose begins running back along the previous bridges of projection, they will work as the greatest hindrances it is possible to imagine, for they effectively prevent any real detachment from the former object. [“General Aspects of Dream Psychology,” CW 8, par. 507.]
The need to withdraw projections is generally signaled by frustrated expectations in relationships, accompanied by strong affect. But Jung believed that until there is an obvious discordance between what we imagine to be true and the reality we are presented with, there is no need to speak of projections, let alone withdraw them.
Projection … is properly so called only when the need to dissolve the identity with the object has already arisen. This need arises when the identity becomes a disturbing factor, i.e., when the absence of the projected content is a hindrance toadaptation and its withdrawal into the subject has become desirable. From this moment the previous partial identity acquires the character of projection. The term projection therefore signifies a state of identity that has become noticeable. [“Definitions,” CW 6, par. 783.]
Jung distinguished between passive projection and active projection. Passive projection is completely automatic and unintentional, like falling in love. The less we know about another person, the easier it is to passively project unconscious aspects of ourselves onto them.
Active projection is better known as empathy – we feel ourselves into the other’s shoes. Empathy that extends to the point where we lose our own standpoint becomes identification.The projection of the personal shadow generally falls on persons of the same sex. On a collective level, it gives rise to war, scapegoating and confrontations between political parties. Projection that takes place in the context of a therapeutic relationship is calledtransference or countertransference, depending on whether the analysand or the analyst is the one projecting.
In terms of the contrasexual complexes, anima and animus, projection is both a common cause of animosity and a singular source of vitality.When animus and anima meet, the animus draws his sword of power and the anima ejects her poison of illusion and seduction. The outcome need not always be negative, since the two are equally likely to fall in love. [“The Syzygy: Anima and Animus,” CW 9ii, par. 30.]
For Melanie Klein two positions are both crucia and relevant to this essay.
The term 'paranoid-schizoid position' refers to a constellation of anxieties, defences and internal and external object relations that Klein considers to be characteristic of the earliest months of an infant's life and to continue to a greater or lesser extent into childhood and adulthood. Contemporary understanding is that paranoid-schizoid mental states play an important part throughout life. The chief characteristic of the paranoid-schizoid position is the splitting of both self and object into good and bad, with at first little or no integration between them.
The term "transference" as a meaning of resistance was firstly employed by Freud in 1985.1 It was considered an obstacle to the analytical process that prevented the access to residuals of the childhood sexuality that remained linked to "erogenous zones"; in a normal evolution, such links should be already disconnected.
Some years later, in the classic Dora's case,2 Freud pointed out that the patient does not remember anything that is forgotten or repressed, but act it out, reproducing the repressed not as a recall, but as a repetitive and unconscious action. In the post-scriptum of this work, Freud3 conceptualizes transference saying that transferences "are new editions or facsimiles of the impulses and fantasies which are aroused and made conscious during the progress of the analysis; but they have this peculiarity, which is characteristic for their species, that they replace some earlier person by the person of the physician. To put it another way: a whole series of psychological experiences are revived, not as belonging to the past, but as applying to the person of the physician at the present moment. Some of these transferences have a content which differs from that of their model in no respect whatever except for the substitution. These then - to keep to the same metaphor - are merely new impressions or reprints. Others are more ingeniously constructed; their content has been subjected to a moderating influence - to sublimination, as I call it - and they may even become conscious, by cleverly taking advantage of some real peculiarity in the physician's person or circumstances and attaching themselves to that. These, then, will no longer be new impressions, but revised editions." So far, transference had been seen as a clinical phenomenon that could be an obstacle to treatment, later on, however, Freud4 referred to transference for the first time as a therapeutical agent, and observed that transference was not always an obstacle, it could have an important role in the process of understanding patients.
The specific qualities of transference were assigned an additional meaning when the concept of "transference neurosis" was introduced.5 This concept emphasized the way how past relationships, which compose the neurosis, affect the patient's feelings towards the therapist. This concept was later widened, when Freud6pointed out that "the patient is compelled to repeat repressed contents as something from the present, instead of, as the physician should realize, remember it as something from the past". The theme of such reproductions, which arise with great and undesirable exactness, is some part of the children's sexual life and invariably is expressed through transference that takes place between patient and therapist. When one reaches such phase, we can say that the previous neurosis is replaced by a new one, the "transference neurosis." Repeating the past through transference is a consequence of the "repetition compulsion." The transference itself is only a fragment of repetition, which is a transference of the forgotten past not only from patient to therapist, but to all the other aspects of the present.
The understanding of transference as a source of unconscious communication was very well developed by Melanie Klein.7 According to her, when the therapeutic relationship is set, the patient recalls feelings, conflicts and defenses he or she experienced in the original situation. Klein understood transference as a reproduction of all primitive objects and objects relations internalized in the patient's psychology, followed by drives, unconscious fantasies and anxieties.
According to Dewald,8 transference is defined as the displacement to an object from the present moment of all impulses, defenses, attitudes, feelings and responses experienced with the first objects in life . Transference would be a repetition of situations whose origin rely in the past. Greenson9 defines transference as an unconscious process, as a repetition of an object relationship that took place in the past, usually with people who were important for the child's in his/her first years of life, unconsciously transferred to figures from the present.
Therefore, by analyzing the concept of transference under the light of different authors, it can be defined as a set of unconscious expectations, beliefs and emotional responses that a patient carries to the therapeutic setting. Such responses are not necessarily based on who the therapist is or how he or she really acts, but on the persisting experiences that the patient has during his life with other important figures from the past.
In 1915, Freud10 referred to the "transference love" as a serious difficulty in psychoanalysis as a very frequent situation in which the patient declares love for the doctor. Freud points out that the doctor must recognize that the patient's falling in love is not to be attributed to the charms of his own person. Freud intends to demonstrate how much the powers of nature are present in the transference phenomenon and also to call the doctor's attention to what he or she is managing, using the erotic transference to better understand the patient. In this work, Freud classified transference both as positive and negative. The positive transference is then referred to all drives and derivatives related to libido, especially feelings of affection and care, including erotic desires, provided that they have been sublimated under the form of non-sexual love and do not persist as an erotic link. On the other hand, the negative transference concerns the presence of aggressive drives and their derivatives, such as envy, jealous, voracity, destructiveness and intense erotic feelings.
When approaching special types of transference, Sandler11 reported that there are patients who develop erotic transference and refuse to go on with the usual therapeutic treatment, they can reject interpretations that relate current feelings to the past and do not search further explanations for the meaning or cause of symptoms they had complained before. Sessions are used to express their love, gratification in the presence of the beloved, and pledges for having their "love" corresponded. Even though Freud10 acknowledged the resistance of transference, he warned therapists not to confound this reaction with true love, and at the same time he warned them against their attempts to repress patients' love. He said that "to urge the patient to suppress, renounce or sublimate her instincts the moment she has admitted her erotic transference would be, not an analytic way of dealing with them, but a senseless one. It would be just as though after summoning up a spirit from the underworld by cunning spells, one were to send him down again without having asked him a single question." This means it would be as disastrous for the patient to have her love fulfilled as suppressed.
Erotic transferences can be manifested in different ways, following both the neurotic and psychotic patterns. Different authors have differentiated several forms of erotic transference. Bolognini12 described four types of erotic transference, with their respective dynamic origins and repercussions in the analytical relationship. The erotised transference would be predominantly based on a psychotic modality. The underlying fantasy in the transference erotisation, which would have a defensive function, would be the fantasy of separation and abandonment, which will be an attempt to restore that state of narcissist fusion with the mother. The erotic transference would be based on a neurotic modality, and loving and affectionate transferences would be clinical manifestations that would correspond to a healthier and ameliorated behavior. For many authors, the erotised transference is typical from borderline patients, very disturbed; in the erotic transference there is an excessive anguish to be loved by the analyst, with manifest and conscious demands of sexual gratification, which are direct, exaggerated and persistent.13,14 It expresses a very primitive mental functioning, in which the object is highly idealized and persecutory.
According to Teixeira da Silva,15 apud Blitzen, the erotised transference is a reflex of pre-genital conflicts in which aspects such as intense violence, fragility of the self and lost of the notion "as if" are predominant; the therapist is not "as if" he or she were the father or mother, the therapist is the patient's father or mother. There is a loss in the capacity of symbolizing, and the intensity of this loss shall represent the level of patient's regression. In the erotic transferences, the capacity of fantasizing is not lost, and the erotic demands remain in the level of fantasy, the analyst is an object of the patient's fantasy, different from the erotised fantasies, in which the therapist is a concrete object. Saul16 discusses the role of latent aggressiveness in situations of erotic transference. He points out that this type of transference is associated to real frustrations in relationships that took place in the early years of life, suggesting that hostility and rage triggered by such frustrations could be repeated in the relationship with the therapist. Transference love would be a way of protecting the physician from hostile feelings.
Zimerman17 considers that two risks may follow the installation of erotised transference in the analytical field: one is that when the patient's demands are not satisfied by the therapist, the patient acts outside the analytical situation, sometimes acquiring some severe traces of malignity. The second possibility is equally malignant, it is when the therapy can end up perverting the transference, including the possibility of the therapist being involved in it.
jIn the management of erotic transference, one should take into account that new editions of infantile conflicts result from unfulfilled desires that try to be accomplished in the context of the psychoanalytical treatment. It is the therapist's responsibility to show the reality to the patient, which can be made through a detailed analysis of transference/countertransference feelings of the dyad patient-therapist. When the therapist makes his or her interpretation, putting unconscious emotions into words, he opens the passage to the symbolic. When interpretation makes the unconscious conscious, it allows the libido to be at the self disposal for healthier investments. It puts the patient in contact with reality and not with the fulfillment of a desire, as the patient requires. Moreover, if interpretation is employed correctly, it frequently reduces the desire and resistance inherent to the erotic transference.18 Elaborating the transference love implies elaborating the renouncement and the grief that usually follow the resolution of an oedipal situation. At the same time, the patient must learn that searching for the oedipal object would be a permanent aspect in all his or her love relationships. This does not mean do understand all future love relationships as resulting solely from the oedipal situation, but that the oedipal structure is present and affects the framework of love experiences.
Freud,10 however, pointed out that there is "one class of women with whom this attempt to preserve the erotic transference for the purposes of analytic work without satisfying it will not succeed. These are women of elemental passionateness who tolerate no surrogates." He goes on saying that "with such people one has the choice between returning their love or else bringing down upon oneself the full enmity of a woman scorned. In neither case can one safeguard the interests of the treatment. One has to withdraw, unsuccessful; and all one can do is to turn the problem over in one's mind of how it is that a capacity for neurosis is joined with such an intractable need for love."
For Kernberg,19 the most important technical issues in the management of erotic transfer are: first of all, tolerance with the development of sexual feelings towards the patient, either homosexual or heterosexual, which requires doctors' internal freedom so that they can use their psychological bisexuality. Then, the importance of systematically analyzing the patient's defenses against the complete expression of sexual transference, and the risk of becoming invasive through seduction; and finally, the physician's capacity of analyzing the expression of transference love and his or her reactions to frustration, which will inevitably occur. The therapist's task would be to avoid talking about his countertransference feelings and integrate the understanding obtained with his or her countertransference with transference interpretations about the patient's unconscious conflicts.
Initially, countertransference was also treated as an undesirable phenomena of the psychoanalytical treatment, just like transference. Freud20 coined the term countertransference defining it as a phenomenon that arises in the physician "as a result of the patient's influence on his unconscious feelings." As in the transference, Freud's first reaction was to consider it as something inadequate and disturbing that should be avoided. He says, with relation to the doctor, that "we are almost inclined to insist that he shall recognize this counter-transference in himself and overcome it."
Later, Freud21 was already aware of the potential value of countertransference and recommended: The therapist "must turn his own unconscious like a receptive organ towards the transmitting unconscious of the patient ... so the doctor's unconscious is able, from the derivatives of the unconscious which are communicated to him, to reconstruct that unconscious, which has determined the patient's free associations."
However, it was after the studies developed by Racker22 and Heimann23 that countertransference became an additional factor in the process of understanding the therapist's work. Racker22 considered countertransference as a set of therapist's images, feelings and impulses during the session that could happen in three different ways: a) as an obstacle; b) as a therapeutic instrument; and c) as a "field" in which the patient can really acquire a live experience, different from that he had originally. He also described two types of countertransference reactions: the complementary countertransference, when the analyst takes on the role of the patient's object; and the concordant countertransference, when the analyst takes on an aspect of the patient's personality (self, id and superego). Heimann23 describes the countertransference as the set of all physician's feelings towards the patient. He points out that the therapist can use the emotional responses to the patients' projections to understand them. For that end, the therapist must be able to keep his/her feelings for himself/herself, instead of discharging them as does the patient.
Erotic transference usually causes some countertransference reactions in the therapist, and examining such reactions is important to understand the patient. Krenberg19 considers it is useful that the therapist is able to tolerate his/her sexual fantasies towards the patient, and must let an imaginary sexual relation happen in the narrative, mentally following the patient's erotic transference. This will allow him to progressively realize the antilibidinal, antidestructive and rejecting aspects that can be hidden in the patient's explicit erotic manifestation. According to this author, the analyst that feels himself/herself free to explore, in his/her own mind, the sexual feelings towards the patients will be able to assess the nature of the transference development and, thus, avoid the defensive negation of his own erotic response to the patient. The analyst must, at the same time, be able to examine the transferencial love without acting his countertransference out in what may be configured as a seductive approach.
Teixeira da Silva15 draws attention to the role of the therapist's own treatment. He says that the "analyst's ideal didactic analysis would be that in which he/she could analyze with detail his/her pre-oedipal and oedipal aspects and overcome them to develop a natural and true relation with himself/herself. All this would be complementary to practice and theory. This author claims that there is no ideal analysis and that we must understand our work and clinical experience as an endless source of knowledge and development.
There is a growing tendency in the psychoanalytical literature of works considering that transference and countertransference are influenced by the gender and vital cycle of the dyad involved in the analysis. The analyst's and patient's sexual identity does not only stimulate but create specific transference and countertransference resistance and difficulties.24 As to the erotic transferences, this is not different. Note, for example, that most of the psychoanalytical case reports involving erotic and erotised transferences is about female patients with male therapists.
Teixeira da Silva,15 points out that both male and female therapists meet difficulties to realize transferences in which they have the role of the opposite sex. This author listed the different characteristics of transference in the therapeutic dyads according to the respective genders. In the male therapist and male patient dyad usually predominates, in the oedipal transference, the situation of an aggressive competition with the father, and, in general, the heterosexual impulses are not realized because they are displaced to external objects. The passive homosexual impulses, when aroused, are sources of great transference and countertransference resistances. In the female therapist and female patient dyad, the arousal of an intense erotisation is more frequent, because the woman regresses more easily to a situation of fusion with the phallic mother, once the therapeutic situation corresponds to the original situation of the girl's development, in which she must firstly solve her erotic and homosexual development with her mother, then enter the positive oedipal phase, elaborate the oedipus complex and establish her sexual identity. In the male therapist and female patient dyads the erotic transferences - or erotised transference - are more intense. In this situation, the therapist may find difficult to differentiate when the patient projects the rivalry and hostility against the oedipal mother of an anal regression against the frustrating object, that is, against the oedipal mother. In those dyads, when there is a homosexual desire towards the mother, it will be difficult for the therapist to identify it and separate it from the heterosexual desires concerning the father. In the female therapist male patient dyad, there would have an absence of erotised transferences due to the fear of the powerful pre-oedipal mother that generates anguishes of castration that interfere in the development of strong erotic desires for the oedipal mother.
There are a number of other authors that also made important contributions for the understanding of the issue. Lester,25 for example, stressed that the male patient anxiety towards the female therapist as a phallic pre-oedipal powerful and castrating mother can blur and inhibit the expression of sexual feelings towards the therapist as an oedipal mother, which will account for the few cases reporting this situation in the dyad female therapist and male patient. The author also observed that the passivity engendered by regression in the analytic therapy is dystonic to his active male sexual role. Such point of view was not corroborated by
Gornick.26 He thought that, for certain male patients, it would be much more difficult to be passive and dependant than expressing sexual feelings, which would make men to defend themselves from such feelings, developing erotic feelings towards the therapist in an attempt to restore the sense of male domination.
Pearson27 points out that the erotic transference is more frequent in women as a form of transference, while men would resist against any form of conscience of an erotic transference. Usually, men would displace their erotic feelings towards the therapist to a woman out of the therapy setting, because recognizing such desires would threaten his sense of autonomy. Person also considers that the erotic transference in women is more frequently a desire for love, whilst in men it is a sexual desire.
The management of erotic transference can pose some difficulties, which can be compared to hostile and paranoid transferences, once they can block the therapist's analytical capacity, at least temporarily.
According to Meurer,28 such situations challenge the therapist's capacity, demanding a high level of integration with the self, free fluctuating attention and free perceptive sensitivity to be able to detect, acknowledge and interpret what happens in the transference and countertransference. In the erotic transference, the patient is expected to externalize once more his or her intense infantile desire of loving and being loved, and his or her permanent neurotic willingness to fulfill oedipal love frustrations and obtaining unrestricted and exclusive love from the mother-father therapist. A delicate issue is the possibility, and even necessity, of using countertransference to identify the nature of feelings and fantasies present in the transference. Thus, countertransference does not need to arise as an obstacle but as a factor to understanding. As a consequence, the patient's transference will not be only resistance and drawback, but also a valuable form of communication, which will bring contributions to treatment.
Wallerstein,29 in an analysis of the "Observations on transference love"10 stresses that Freud: 1) Identified the high prevalence of erotic feelings evoked in the psychoanalytic treatment and the "dangers" of such feelings; 2) observed that a small part of patients would develop a form of transference love that would act as very intense resistances and could not be analyzable; and 3) established the main technical foundations to cope with such transferences, as the rule of abstinence and neutrality.
The fact that erotic transference is a common process that can cause technical difficulties when being managed was always stressed in the psychoanalytical literature. Following the basic principles of psychoanalysis postulated by Freud, acknowledging the phenomenon of resistance and adequately using countertransference are necessary conditions for understanding and solving it, which brings precious benefits for the patient's treatment.
The therapist's personal treatment is a fundamental instrument, which can make him able to understand his own psychological functioning and the processes that take place in the patient's mind, as well as the mechanisms that influence the erotic transference and countertransference phenomena. Other required resources can be learning through clinical and theoretical seminars, selected readings and individual supervising.
According to Zimmerman,17 although the patient has an absolute conviction and determination in his game of seduction, in his or her inner deep he is afraid the analyst makes some mistakes, as remaining cold, indifferent and distant from the patient's appeals and erotic fantasies; getting disturbed and defensively replacing interpretation by criticisms, accusations, moral lessons and apology to good behavior; the patient can even have repressive actions that include the fear of having the treatment interrupted, use of medication or being referred to other professional; and the real possibility of the therapist getting involved in a sexual intimacy, which would characterize a total perversion of transference and of the psychoanalytical process.
I have included the following pieces of work as additional material outside of the assignment. The first is a reflection on my political activity as a defense mechanism and the other two addenda as further application of Melainie Klein to the process of defence mechanisms.
The theoretical and technical difficulties in the identification and management of the erotic transference can get worse, when they start to cause ethical and legal problems beyond clinical ones. Bad sexual behavior in the patient that since both the reactuion of myself and my political opponents are essentially that of projection of the relative shadows of both the Green party and of south Wales Ukip-therapist relationship is potentially harmful to the patient and therapist, destructive in relation to the therapeutic work and negative to the profession.
I have considered whether the following is a response or rebellion to my supervision by a mentor who is a UKIP Councillor and my local experiences of UKIP' South Wales that is far from positive. However I have thought that both the local Green party and South Wales UKIP is more to do with both projection and displacement of our respective respective political persona and shadows. In the end I decided to use these approaches by analysing the Trump phenomena to avoid any hidden edges or blind spots So I wrote this and called it Brexit Trump and the creation of the other...
Personally psychoanalysis has always been more compelling as a meta-narrative of criticism rather than any kind of cohesive therapeutic method. That said, there’s something about the recent outburst of neurosis in our political classes that causes me to invite British politics upon the metaphorical chaise-longue. This isn’t just me either, I should hasten to add – the rise of Donald Trump has been met with a mix of bafflement, outrage and confusion from the professional class that exists to explain and decode our political discourse to the general public. To use the appropriate academic vernacular the Trump phenomena is problematic and thus must be, in some way explained.
Now, all of these pieces as they appear online also come with the ubiquitous comment section, and it’s here that things get interesting As a rapidly emergent cultural space its striking to see just how quickly certain sociological rules have codified themselves in relation to the internet. The most famous rule, ‘Don’t read the comments.’ I did. Frequently. I wish I hadn’t but as an anthropological exercise in digital politics some good might come of it.
Taken as a whole, these comments and observations with their stream of mesmeric comments are extremely psychoanalytically revealing. On the surface the reasonable, the well argued, the textually and politically cohesive; it attempts reason and obeys the rules of the form in which it appears. Underneath, literally the sub-text is the comments. The disjointed, the fanatical and the deeply unpleasant exist just there, on the limit of our accepted discursive practises.
The editorials, the columns, the blogs have all circled around the problem –Trump is not necessarily an earthquake, not a political revolution, not “on the march” but something more troubling still.
Donald is the return of the repressed or an illustration of the abject in American politicsThe concept of the abject was developed by the legendary French psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva, drawing on Lacanian notions of the subject grounded in filth. The “abject” is that which is rejected by, or more subtlety, disturbs the established social order. Kristeva also maintains that the abject exists somewhere between the concept of the object and the concept of a subject. Or, to phrase this is more appropriate context, between the concepts of Trumpslitical earthquake and the suited former billionaire here.
Trumps political movement was not a ideology, they are a mode, a neurosis, a collection of every no longer acceptable discourse, every unsayable prejudice in American politics. They represent everything abjected from conventional politics in the modern, post Cklinton age. To quote Kristeva’s aphorism, “To each ego its object, to each superego it’s abject”.
We believed we had moved beyond the racist, beyond the xenophobic, the casually misogynistic and homophobic – all had been cast out of our mainstream political discourse. We thought we were fine arly we were wrong – what should be profoundly discomforting about the re-emergence of the abject into politics is the death of the assumption that these ideas are, and were, rare. If anything has been proven by the streak of gaffes and racism that make up Trumps ’s campaign it is that we cannot argue these views are the minority. The return of the abject is the end to the liberal ideal that these kind of ideas are rare, or in the minority. trump supporters are not an endangered few espied by political anthropologists but neighbours, colleagues and family.
Kristeva states that a confrontation with the abject is always traumatic, as the abject matter always exists outside the symbolic order. Trump , the self-styled political mavericks, the populist rabble-rousers consciously and explicitly attempt to place themselves outside the political symbolic order – thus hardly a surprise that confronting them has proven to be so traumatic for all concerned – from the worried columnists to the bewildered political classes.
So, how do we resolve this? How do we confront the abject in our politics? Kristeva stated that we use rituals in an attempt to maintain clear distinctions between the abject and the social and symbolic orders. Paradoxically these rituals allow us both expel and maintain our contact with the abject and fortunately one such ritual can be enacted tomorrow. Trumps approachare not new, they are simply the most visible representation of strains of thought, of neuroses contained within our political process. We may have to maintain contact with them, but through the ritual of the ballot box the abject can be consigned to the outside of the social and political order. Jungs conception of projection clearly explains in addition to Kristeva`s concept of abjection how millions of Rust belt voters were able to project their concerns onto a Billiomaire that effectively had nothing in common with them. Simarly speculation could be made on how Nigel Farage , a former Tory member who was both a City trader and publically school educated could appeal to millions in the UK as a bloke you might meet down the pub. In conclusion it will be worth observing if Marile Le Pen is able to do the same in the French Elections of April.
The Psychotic Element in Everyday Group Thinking: be it Salem or Social Media groups..the application of Melanie Klein
I am the old Pagan at the spring equinox. I see tensions in groups. I see paranoia and fear. I see accusations I see ad hominem arguments everywhere. We fear tension, we are all more or less broken, all insecure. At the equinox the hidden and the observable are in equal balance. The light and the drak, the yin and the yang. Those who believe in simplistic answers feel threatened amd those who see complex solutions are thretened by those who do not. Yet the realisation of this truth disturbs both groups. This article on the Salem Witch trials and the play the Crucible by Arthur Miller tells us much of this phenomena. As Emily Dickens said
I am the old Pagan at the spring equinox. I see tensions in groups. I see paranoia and fear. I see accusations I see ad hominem arguments everywhere. We fear tension, we are all more or less broken, all insecure. At the equinox the hidden and the observable are in equal balance. The light and the drak, the yin and the yang. Those who believe in simplistic answers feel threatened amd those who see complex solutions are thretened by those who do not. Yet the realisation of this truth disturbs both groups. This article on the Salem Witch trials and the play the Crucible by Arthur Miller tells us much of this phenomena. As Emily Dickens said
Witchcraft was hung, in History,
But History and I
Find all the Witchcraft that we need
Around us, every Day—
We are often shocked to hear of groups that are said to take irrational actions, radically undermining the basic values on which they had previously relied. This is what some believe to have happened in the recent incidents of brutality by American soldiers at Abu Ghraib Prison. The Holocaust and the Inquisition have been described as related acts of group irrationality. These events, however, can be explained another way. According to a Kleinian analysis of group dynamics, these group behaviors can be linked to a pre-existing form of psychotic-like thinking that already tends to characterize our social groups, thinking that stubbornly fends off members’ inquiry into the underlying principles of the groups’ operation. Extreme incidents such as those at Abu Ghraib can then be seen to occur, not because unusual events have led the group to suddenly become irrational, but rather because these events have led to an increase in the dimensions of psychotic-like thinking which already tends to characterize our social groups. The primary issue, then, is not that extraordinary conditions have led to a situation where things have gotten out of hand, but rather the unchecked existence of psychotic-like processes in the everyday operation of our social groups.
A striking example of the phenomenon under discussion occurred on American soil during the Salem Witch Trials. According to Roach (2004), from the first arrest warrants on February 29, 1692 to the last executions on September 22, 1692, eighteen people were executed by hanging, one person was pressed to death, and four people plus one infant died in prison. When the executions ended, fifty-five people had confessed to being “witches” and over a hundred and fifty remained in jail, waiting to be tried or enduring temporary reprieves due to pregnancies. What happened in Salem to trigger the bizarre, murderous self-destruction of a community based on what are often referred to as irrational grounds? This essay explains the event in terms of the intensification of psychotic processes unknowingly accepted as part of our everyday group dynamics.
Researchers have shown a close relationship between certain group phenomena in our society and psychotic processes (Jaques, 1954). Basing their views on the work of Melanie Klein (who believed that personality development includes psychotic processes), these theorists suggest that understanding psychotic mechanisms can facilitate the understanding of group behavior. Bion (1954), for example, believes that the emotional life of the group is understandable only in terms of psychotic processes. Jaques (1954) emphasizes how individuals use institutions to help defend against primitive anxieties linked with psychotic phenomena. And Menzies-Lyth (1960, 1988) has come to understand social structures as a defense against primitive forms of anxiety, guilt, and doubt.
Klein’s theory derives from Freud's dual-drive model (Summers, 1994). Klein adopted Freud's view that the infant is born with both libidinal and destructive impulses. She believed, however, that psychoanalytic theory had focused too much on the libidinal drive, while insufficiently recognizing the aggressive drive (or death instinct). Up until 1934, Klein accepted Freud's model. From 1934 onward, however, she began to formulate her own ideas about human development which emphasized the aggressive drive. A key is her structural concept of “positions” (Segal, 1973).
Klein's model of the human mind includes two basic positions: the paranoid/schizoid position, dominant when the infant is 0 to 3 months old, and the depressive position, which emerges when the infant is about 4-6 months old. In the paranoid/schizoid position, the infant relieves itself of anxiety by attributing its anxious feelings to an attacking external object, which the infant thus hates and rejects. The object (or caregiver) is seen as all bad, incapable of good. The infant is thus relieved from responsibility for the anxiety-provoking situation. Simultaneously, this fantasy of the all bad object enables the infant to seek refuge in the alternative fantasy of an all good caregiver who unerringly satisfies the infant’s needs. (In reality, the infant is typically thinking of different “parts” of the same caregiver.) When the infant shifts into the “depressive position,” she begins to feel guilty for her assault on the object, and then sets out to repair her relationship with the object.
Klein’s “positions” offer different ways of dealing with anxiety: persecutory and annihilation anxiety in the paranoid-schizoid position, and depressive anxiety in the depressive position. The shift from the paranoid-schizoid to the depressive position has been described as a change from a predominantly psychotic way of processing information to a predominantly non-psychotic mode.
There is a continuous tension between the two positions throughout the life cycle (Klein, 1958). Moreover, when a child, adolescent, or adult is under stress, paranoid-schizoid and early depressive mechanisms and phantasies can emerge, greatly reducing the individual's grasp of reality. The fixation point of the psychotic illnesses, according to Segal (1973), "lies in the paranoid schizoid and at the beginning of the depressive position" (p. 74). If an individual regresses to these early developmental points, a sense of reality is lost and psychosis ensues.
The infant in the paranoid/schizoid position tends to undergo a cycle that includes shifts between 1) projecting fantasies onto the object and 2) introjecting the object (Klein, 1958). The aggressive drive gives rise to annihilation anxiety (anxiety that one will be annihilated by the object of one's aggression). While the infant is also born with the life instinct (or libido), this force is not yet strong enough to assuage the aggressive drive. The infant uses projection to cope with annihilation anxiety. Summers (1994) describes the infant's use of projection as follows:
The infant attributes its own destructiveness and the attendant anxiety to the breast, which frees the primitive ego from the anxiety of being destroyed from within… [but] the cost to the primitive ego of projection of aggressiveness onto the breast is the preconception of a new state of danger from without, as the breast holds the threat of destruction that once resided within-the ego (p. 74).
Thus projection of the aggressive drive onto the breast transforms annihilation anxiety into persecutory anxiety. The infant then attempts to reduce the external threat by introjecting the bad breast in an effort to control it. A cycle of projection/introjection develops through which the infant attempts to reduce one type of anxiety while triggering the other. If the infant has a large enough buildup of internalized good object experience (via adequate mothering and handling) and does not have an abundance of innate aggressiveness, the introjective/projective cycles will ultimately reduce the magnitude of persecutory and annihilation anxieties.
Summers highlights 'projective identification' and 'splitting' as two important defensive maneuvers infants use to reduce anxiety in the paranoid/schizoid position. These maneuvers tend to dissipate as the buildup of good object experience starts to outweigh bad object experience and the ego begins to integrate. An over-abundance of bad object experience, however, may greatly delay ego integration, causing the infant to continue to rely on paranoid schizoid defense mechanisms in order to control its aggressiveness.
In "projective identification, the infant attempts to reduce anxiety by projecting the badness . . . into the breast and identifying itself with the object; that is, the infant attempts to control its own aggressiveness by endeavoring to control the aggressiveness in the object" (Summers, 1994, p. 77). Klein (1946) viewed projective identification as the prototype of the aggressive object-relationship. In projective identification, as Segal (1992) describes it, the child or adult places in someone else something belonging to the self that may be too painful to bear. She does this by acting in such a way that the painful parts of the self are evoked in the other person. This defensive maneuver "involves a very deep split, where the aspects of the self projected into others are very deeply denied in the self” (p. 36). Projective identification is one way that children and at times adults attempt to deal with their own destructiveness. We attribute our own rage to someone else and then fear those whom we hate.
In 'splitting,' the infant attempts to keep the good and gratifying object (or breast) unspoiled by aggressiveness. In fantasy, the infant splits the breast into a good and a bad object. The infant thus avoids having to experience the anxiety of injuring the good object through its aggressiveness. In addition, since intra-psychic contact between the good and bad object is threatening to the infantile ego, the ego splits into good and bad selves.
In splitting, the infant directs all love and desire toward the ideal object which it wants to introject, possess, and identify with (Segal, 1973). Concurrently, she directs all hatred toward the persecutory object in an attempt to rid the self of everything that is felt to be bad or disruptive to the self. Adults often try to resolve conflicts by splitting their perception of people into all good or all bad aspects. When an individual relies chiefly on the defense of splitting, reality becomes grossly distorted, creating a world of "one-dimensional, one characteristic part objects" (p. 41).
Developmentally speaking, when early positive experiences and innate libido have been strong enough to solidify a good internalized object, the ego will begin to recognize that good and bad objects are the same (Summers, 1994). Split off components of reality start to become integrated, leading to a more realistic perception of reality. The infant comes to recognize the rather scary reality that the hated object is the same one which is loved and depended on for sustenance. She gains an awareness of objects and the self as whole (with loved and hated aspects). Infants begin to understand that they are aggressive agents, not simply victims of persecution. This integration of split off parts leads to the beginning of the “depressive position.”
In the depressive position, the child's primary anxiety stems from her fear that her destructive impulses have or will destroy "the object that he loves and totally depends on" (Segal, 1973, p.69). As the infant recognizes a desire to injure the object, she feels guilt and a desire to repair the object, which is both loved and hated. If she has a sufficiently stable build up of good object experiences, the infant will be able to see that her destructive impulses have not irreparably damaged the loved object.
In its fragile state of ego integration, the infant relies on certain defensive maneuvers to help her cope with depressive anxiety. This includes, according to Summers (1994), the infant's omnipotent phantasy that it can magically control bad objects and restore good objects, or mania. The child's belief in her omnipotence strongly suggests a denial of reality. The “manic defense” denies external and psychic reality, exaggerating the internalized good object (Klein, 1935).
When the manic defense does not succeed in repairing the object, the infant may frantically attempt to repair it by means of obsessive mechanisms "in a desperate effort to repair the object over and over to prevent psychic disintegration" (Summers, 1994, p. 92). If all of the infant's reparative efforts fail, depressive anxiety will not be reduced and psychopathology may ensue. The individual may become locked in an obsessive compulsive pattern, or fixated in a manic defense. If the anxiety triggered by not being able to repair the object is overwhelming and the internalized good object not solidly in place, a regression to the paranoid-schizoid position may develop. The ability to sustain loving relationships depends on the experience of having repaired the loved object. Individuals who have not had this experience may be unable to form intimate relationships out of fear that they will destroy the loved object.
Bion (1954) believed that Klein's psychology of the individual applied to groups. He theorized that the emotional life of the group could be understood only in terms of the psychotic processes characteristic of the paranoid-schizoid and the early depressive positions.
Individuals, according to Bion, are driven to make contact with the emotional life of the groups in which they live. The task of making this contact is akin to the infant's need to make physical and emotional contact with the breast. Connecting emotionally with the group and securing membership requires a "massive regression, to mechanisms (e.g., splitting, projective identification) described by Klein as typical of the earliest phases of mental life" p. 440). This regressed state is suggested by the fact that in most groups people forfeit their distinctiveness in order to become members.
Bion (1954) delineated two trends of mental activity that occur simultaneously in any group, the “work group” and the “basic assumption group.” The work group pursues the basic activity that the group has come together to accomplish (the task). This activity "... is related to reality, its methods are rational, and, therefore, in however embryonic form, scientific" (p. 442). The work group recognizes the need for the group to understand experience and to develop. Much like the individual who has dealt successfully with paranoid-schizoid and depressive anxieties, this level of group functioning is characterized by a relationship to whole objects, a prevalence of ego integration and the use of the symbolic function to give meaning to group activity. The work group may be distinguished by a leader who is focused on the task at hand, and therefore possesses contact with external reality.
Work group activity, however, can be obstructed by basic assumptions. Group members, according to Bion, place aspects of their deepest anxieties outside of themselves and pool them to create the emotional life of the group. Basic assumptions act as defenses against these pooled primal anxieties, anxieties characteristic of the paranoid/schizoid and early depressive positions.
Bion describes basic assumptions as giving meaning to the complex, chaotic, underlying emotional life of the group. The basic assumption operating at any given time is communicated to members through projective identification. In projective identification unwanted parts of the personality of individual members are split off and projected into the emotional life of the group. Bion goes on to say that basic assumptions are:
. . . worked out on a level of part objects, and associated with psychotic anxiety and mechanisms of splitting and projective identification such as Melanie Klein has described as characteristic of the paranoid-schizoid and [early] depressive positions (p. 457).
Bion identifies three types of basic assumptions: dependency, pairing, and fight-flight. The work group bases itself on one basic assumption at a time. Group members are typically unaware of the powerful effects that a basic assumption may be having on the group's functioning, including obstructing the task at hand. While the work group's task may remain unaltered, the basic assumption can change quickly in response to the emergence of psychotic anxiety. If, for example, a 'pairing' basic assumption is unable to contain the group's anxiety, a sudden shift may occur to a 'dependency' or a 'fight-flight' assumption.
The dependency assumption appears to emphasize guilt and depression. This basic assumption manifests in the phantasy that the group has met in order to be sustained by a leader on whom it depends for nourishment, protection, and material well being. The leader may become a deity who group members believe will magically solve all of their problems, including completion of the task. Members may experience guilt and depression in response to thoughts about the leader not living up to the group's expectations. They may feel guilty or depressed in response to not feeling worthy of the leader.
The pairing basic assumption involves projections of messianic hope. Pairing usually finds expression in ideas related to marriage, or new ideas that would put an end to the status quo (e.g., phantasies concerning the birth of a messiah). For hope to be sustained, it is necessary that these ideas remain unrealized. During pairing, the work group tends to be pressured to produce "a Messiah, be it person, idea, or Utopia" (p. 448). This task, however, is likely to be sabotaged because hope requires that the Messiah cannot materialize.
Pairing, according to Bion (1954), “…is a person or idea that will save the group-in fact from feelings of hatred, destructiveness and despair, of its own or another group, but in order to do this obviously the Messianic hope must never be fulfilled” (p. 448).
The fight-flight assumption involves projecting hatred through violence against an enemy, or flight from a hated object. This assumption offers an opportunity for the unmitigated release of hatred. It meets the need for instantaneous satisfaction. The group may follow any leader licensing instantaneous attack or flight. Leaders not demanding a fight or flight will be ignored.
Panic and scapegoating often suggest the fight-flight assumption. Bion (1954) links panic with the primary emotions of fear and anger. The stimulus for panic is almost always an event that falls outside of the work group's function. Police officers, for example, will not likely panic in response to a murder. A group of students in a classroom, however, would be prone to panic.
Those scapegoated, according to Volkan (1985), serve as a receptacle for the projections of unacceptable impulses experienced by the group. Typically, scapegoats are vulnerable to attack because of some characteristic that makes them different from the main group. The projection of unwanted parts temporarily relieves anxiety while justifying this displaced aggression. And this act of projection binds members of the “good” group closer together.
Certain factors typically make an individual or subgroup a candidate to become a respository for unwanted group parts (Hazell, 2005): one’s status, being a singleton, being located at a boundary, and one’s personal predisposition. Low status persons frequently become the containers of things that are regarded as dirty, unseemly, foolish, etc. Being the only one of a kind in a group can set an individual or subgroup up to be a container. Prejudice contributes to the projection into this minority subgroup or individual. The input and output boundaries of groups are hotbeds for unconscious activity, leaving gatekeepers particularly vulnerable to group projections. Lastly, individual history can prime an individual or subgroup to receive a certain type of group projection. Individuals, for example, who have been designated as black sheep in families may be predisposed to become scapegoats in groups.
Bion, identifies subgroups that exist specifically for the purpose of stimulating the activity of a particular basic assumption. He calls these subgroups specialized work groups. These groups neutralize basic assumptions so as to prevent them from obstructing the main group's function.
Two examples of specialized work groups highlighted by Bion include the church (utilized by the larger group to neutralize the dependency assumption), and the army (which neutralizes the fight-flight assumption). Basic assumption phenomena can become dangerous when translated into action. Such a phenomenon "does not lend itself to translation into action, since action requires work group function to maintain contact with reality" (Bion, 1954 p. 452). Specialized work groups translate work group activity into the basic assumption mentality. The army evokes the illusion of absolute protection by force, while at the same time vigorously avoiding the use of it. The army therefore helps to neutralize the fight-flight assumption by preventing it from vitiating the main work group task. The church enables the larger group to pay homage to a deity (dependency function) for some notable product of the work group. The church thus fortifies religious beliefs, without obstructing the task at hand. If a specialized work group cannot cope with a basic assumption phenomenon effectively, however, the work group function could deteriorate. According to Bion (1954):
As work group function consists essentially of the translation of thoughts and feelings into behavior which is adapted to reality, it is ill-adapted to give expression to basic assumptions. For basic assumptions become dangerous in proportion as the attempt is made to translate them into action (p. 452).
A disturbed group, in Bion’s view, is one in which the basic assumption level of functioning dominates, or even obliterates work group functioning. Such a group is usually characterized by part object relationships associated with psychotic anxiety and defensive mechanisms such as splitting and projective identification.
Jaques too (1954) stresses that Klein's theory applies to group processes. Rather than highlighting basic assumption phenomena, however, he focuses on how individuals unconsciously use institutions to reinforce defenses against paranoid/schizoid and depressive anxiety. Jaques suggests that group members externalize “bad objects” and impulses that could give rise to primitive anxiety. Once externalized, these objects and impulses are pooled, thus creating the emotional life of the group. Members share unconscious phantasies with respect to the objects and impulses through projective identification. The group phantasies that evolve unconsciously defend against anxiety. Groups not only have explicit functions, but have "manifold unrecognized functions at the phantasy level" (Jaques, 1954, p. 482).
Jaques gives examples of social defenses against paranoid anxiety. Group members defend against “bad impulses” by putting them into members unconsciously selected to "introject these projected objects and impulses and either to absorb or deflect them" (p. 483). In the case of absorption, the members introject and contain the impulses, while in deflection they do not contain them, but project them onto someone else. Jaques cites war as an example of this defensive maneuver in operation. War manifests explicitly as a social structure consisting of two opposing armies backed by their respective communities. On a phantasy level, however, members of each community may be putting their “bad impulses” into the accepted enemy, who absorbs them. Community members rid of aggressive impulses by projecting them onto their armies, who in turn deflect them, directing them against the enemy.
Jaques describes a common group defense against depressive anxiety (characteristic of the depressive position). This consists of the "manic denial of destructive impulses, and destroyed good objects, and the reinforcement of good impulses and good objects, by participation in group idealization" (p. 486). This social defense mechanism is best seen in group mourning ceremonies. These ceremonies provide both the community and the bereaved with the opportunity to unconsciously co-operate in splitting the destroyed “bad” part of the loved object from the loved part. “Bad” objects and impulses are buried; “good” parts protected and idealized as eternal memories.
According to Jaques, social defense mechanisms can be beneficial to the individual as well as to the community as a whole. Consider, for example, the case of the group mourning ceremony. The social idealizing and manic denial characteristic of the group ceremony provides bereaved individuals with an opportunity to reduce internal chaos, to cope with the intense impact of death, and to continue mourning at their own pace. On a community level, all those associated with the ceremony can further their own mourning . They can therefore work through unresolved conflicts related to the infantile depressive position.
Menzies-Lyth (1960, 1988) further elaborates on social defense mechanisms. She examines how social structures defend against primal anxieties. Menzies-Lyth highlights the need for individuals’ defense structures to match those of the organizations to which they belong. Social organizations develop a structure, a culture, and a manner of functioning. These depend on the primary task, the available tools, environmental pressures, and, most importantly, the need to deal with anxiety. The social defense system protects members from experiencing anxiety. Such systems often institutionalize primitive defense mechanisms. These defense mechanisms include splitting, projective identification, and denial. While these defense mechanisms may facilitate the temporary evasion of anxiety, they contribute very little to its permanent modification and reduction. Rather than enhancing the organization's effectiveness, social defense systems typically reduce an organization’s ability to accomplish its primary task.
From the perspective of Menzies-Lyth, paranoid/schizoid mechanisms may be especially significant when life and death anxieties are prevalent. Menzies-Lyth highlighted these ideas in a study of a British teaching hospital during the 1950s. In the hospital, part object relationships, splitting processes, and paranoid anxiety flourished. Nurses conformed to an unspoken rule which required them to split patients by referring to them as part objects, such as the kidney in bed five. They treated patients as if they had no existence before or outside of the hospital. Families of hospitalized patients oscillated between a view of themselves as under attack by incompetent hospital staff to an idealized view of staff members as miracle workers who would magically cure their stricken loved ones. Nurses were prone to see other nurses above them in the hierarchy as either wonderful leaders or horrible despots. And nurses perceived those beneath them in rank as incompetent. Finally, more mature nurses who refused to split their perceptions in the aforementioned ways either left the system or were rejected by it.
The fate of those nurses who would not conform to the hospital's defense structure suggests that in any institution an unconscious match must exist between an individual's defense structure and the organization's defense structure. If the discrepancy between group and individual structures is too great, the group may feel that the individual poses a threat to the state of equilibrium maintained by the social defense structure. The individual may temporarily or permanently lose membership. An individual's ability to survive in an institution may be determined by the capacity to behave in accordance with the institution's defense system.
Resistance to social change, in the view of Menzies-Lyth, can indicate an organization’s reluctance to give up social defense structures used to ward off primal anxieties. Efforts to initiate change when such primitive defenses are operating may be extremely difficult. The institution is likely to respond to such efforts with acute anxiety, aggression, and hostility. Resistance to change is most likely greater in organizations which have social defense systems dominated by primitive defense mechanisms characteristic of the paranoid-schizoid position, such as splitting and projective identification. Paranoid/ schizoid mechanisms distort reality, preventing insight into the nature of problems. This prevents a realistic appreciation of the problems’ seriousness.
Application of Group Theories to the Salem Witch Trials
The ideas put forth by Melanie Klein and utilized by Bion, Jaques, and Menzies-Lyth shed light on the Salem witch trials. Before embarking on an analysis of the trials, however, we provide a brief overview of the Puritans’ worldview and the situation in Salem at the time of the trials.
By the end of the seventeenth century, belief in the reality of witchcraft was virtually universal in western society (Boyer, 1976). Throughout Europe, hundreds of thousands of people had been killed as witches. Despite important advances in modern science such as Newton's law of gravitation, few people criticized existing theological beliefs in light of the new discoveries. It was common even among intellectuals to interpret the Bible in a literal fashion.
The Puritans of Salem were a people who had suffered religious persecution in the Old World. They came to America for the sole purpose of establishing their religion. Having endured persecution in England and elsewhere, the Puritans in turn came to persecute others who held dissimilar beliefs in America. They believed Puritanism to be the one true religion.
The Puritans lived in a theocratic society. Ministers were usually the main officers and administrators of the government. One who was not in good standing with the church could not vote or hold office. Such an individual could be punished through excommunication (a formal termination of church membership). This resulted in the loss of all property rights.
While belief in the devil and witchcraft was not isolated to any branch of Christianity, certain tenets made the Puritans of New England particularly susceptible to belief in the Devil and witches. The Puritan's belief system stressed that an active evil force was operating with the goal of obliterating God's kingdom on earth. The Puritans personified this force as the Devil. They believed, moreover, that the Devil was particularly interested in launching an assault on them, since they were the new chosen people.
The Puritan obsession with evil was linked with their relentless desire to affirm their superiority. Their domination of external realities reflected the domination of their inner lives, carried out for the sake of purity. Their Doctrine of the Elect highlights their emphasis on superiority. This doctrine stated that at birth or later an individual might be chosen by God to become one of the Elect (would receive God's grace and eternal salvation). Puritans lived righteous lives to prepare to be an Elected member if the day came. It was widely assumed that those who were never Elected would not be saved.
If God could elect certain people to be saved, the Devil could select others to be bewitched. The Puritans were vigilant about identifying witches (those who had joined the Devil's ranks). Once people entered into a covenant with the Devil, they would attack the innocent. It was widely believed that witches could enter into people's bodies without them knowing it. Witches could assume the shape of innocent people and then torment others. The tormented ones would then accuse innocent individuals of being witches. The falsely accused would be brutally and unjustly admonished by the community. The Devil in this way would disrupt Puritan society.
The Puritans' literal interpretation of the Bible, according to Levin (1960), condoned their harsh treatment of witches: Exodus 22:18 "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live". Yet most Puritans believed that once people confessed to being witches, they were free. The first step in the process of being saved was an open confession of one's sins. Another faction of the church, however, believed that confessing to being a witch would eternally damn a person. Many innocent people accused of witchcraft who might otherwise have falsely confessed in order to save their lives, therefore, refused to do so because they believed that even a false confession would result in eternal damnation.
Historians have noted, moreover, that the Puritans' concept of the Devil grew out of their acceptance of the Doctrine of Original Sin, which informed them that they were "worms, dogs, potential colleagues of the Devil until the grace of God ... poured into them" (Levin, 1960, p. xii). They believed that they were tainted by evil at birth. This was supported by ministers whose sermons depicted them as being on the verge of damnation. They were seen as highly prone to becoming witches. Puritans believed that they needed to vigilantly purify themselves and their community of this inherent evil so they could accept God's grace and become one of the Elect. Purifying themselves and their community meant living austere lives characterized by hard work, prayer, confession, and penance.
The Puritans' unique historical situation created tremendous anxiety for them. This historical situation included: their cultivation of moral superiority as a strategy for challenging the powerful British aristocracy; their resultant persecution and exile; the grandiose and paranoid traits linked with their ideology of being the chosen people; their struggle for survival in the ominous American wilderness; the growing disparity between their fanatical ideology and the reality of liberty both for the Puritans in England and for the population of the American colonies; and various local social and political disputes which were acute at the time of the Salem outbreak. When the Puritans could no longer suppress this anxiety, it began to emerge in the form of increasing attacks upon what they saw as the devil.
In February 1692, Elizabeth Parris, the eleven-year-old daughter of Samuel Paris, the minister at Salem Village, and her twelve year old cousin Abigail Williams began to unexpectedly have violent fits. The girls were described as falling to the ground "in strange agonies and grievous torments" (Levin, 1960, p.93). The authorities noted that these fits were similar to those of children who had been bewitched. These authorities confirmed the girls' bewitchment when the girls acknowledged that they were taking palmistry lessons with the minister's West Indian slave, Tituba. The Puritans considered occult activity to be directly tied to the Devil. Initially, the family tried to address the situation quietly at home through fasting and prayer. But the minister's low key strategy failed when one of his parishioners advised Tituba's husband that a witch cake-made with the urine of the afflicted would cure the girls. This cake Parris believed unforgivable, "for the good Puritan was forbidden to use the Devil's means, even in fighting against him" (Levin, 1960, p. xiv).
Following the witch cake episode, word spread throughout the community that the girls were bewitched and that the Devil was in Salem (Boyer, 1976). Within days, the two afflicted girls and other young women who had witnessed them engage in palmistry with Tituba began to accuse various members of the Salem community of being witches. The girls and those who had witnessed the palmistry lessons continued to have fits. This afflicted group of young women convinced the authorities that they had not joined the ranks of the Devil, but that he continued to torment them with the goal of forcing them to become witches. The Devil would induce fits in them when actively trying to coerce them to join his ranks. Once a fit was induced, the Devil would promise the young women that they would feel relief from their pain if they became witches by signing or touching his book. Next he would show them a list of names of others who had signed his book. At times, the afflicted girls would have fits in response to the presence of witches who they said would appear to them as specters and then torture them in an attempt to coerce them into becoming witches. Throughout the trials, these girls enjoyed notoriety as they continued to accuse more and more people of being witches. When anyone questioned the validity of these accusations, the authorities would point out the penitent witches who had confessed as confirmation of the girls' charges.
On June 2nd, the chief justice William Stoughton sentenced the first witch to hang. The conviction rested largely on the testimony of the bewitched girls and on spectral evidence -- "testimony that a specter in the shape of the accused had tormented the accuser or demanded that he sign the Devil's book" (Levin, 1960, p. xv). The trials moved forward, and more and more people were convicted and eventually hanged.
Gradually, various members of the community began to suspect that the witch trials had gone too far. Leaders became concerned that accusations were being made within their own ranks. Common people, witnesses, judges, and jurors began to question the officials' conduct. Dissension broke out in the community. These events led Governor Phips to change his position on the trials. His actions helped put an end to the executions.
The Puritans’ work group focused on meeting basic survival needs. They sought food, water, and physical protection. They strived for unity to fend off ideological or material enemies. The theocratic nature of Puritan society can be viewed as a specialized work group. Prior to the witch trials, the theocracy appears to have coped with basic assumption phenomena in a manner that enabled the work group to function. The theocracy responded to a build-up of primitive anxiety within the group by allowing for shifts between the three basic assumptions. The doctrines established by the specialized work group express basic assumption phenomena. These beliefs helped the community maintain a sense of unity. Pairing is evident in the Puritans' belief in the Doctrine of the Elect and their belief that the Kingdom of God would arrive at the millennium. Dependency is shown in the literal interpretation of the Bible and the belief in one God who is relied on for salvation. Lastly, fight-flight appears to have been manifested in the flight from the Old World in response to persecution. It is also evident in Puritans' complete acceptance of the Doctrine of Original Sin, which required them to fight against evil in order to purify themselves and their community. And it is evident in the intolerance of anyone whose beliefs differed from those of the Puritans.
Bion's framework can be extended to take into account the historical component of the Puritans' anxiety. The historical situation of the Puritans, which involved them in a variety of disputes, threats, and challenges to their ideology, engendered great anxiety. Yet the Puritan character structure was rooted in the denial of impulses through their projection onto external phenomena. Hostilities and desires needed to be tracked down and expunged from their consciousness. Expressions of liberty such as the freedom to practice other religions were a terrifying threat. When they could no longer suppress it, therefore, the Puritans' massive anxiety burst forth in a group psychosis. As suggested by Hazell (2005) low-status persons frequently become repositories for what is seen as dirty, unseemly, ignorant, foolish, etc. They act as containers for what is thought to be shameful, uncomfortable and undesirable. In Salem, those of the lowest classes and thus the most vulnerable -- women, a Haitian slave, poor people -- became targets for the projection of anxiety and hostility in the guise of being 'witches'. The Puritans could finally release the intense psychic impulses which had been pent up for so long. In destroying these 'witches', the higher status Puritans tried to obliterate the anxiety within themselves.
Initially, the specialized work group was relied on in an attempt to cope with these anxieties ritualistically (through fasting and prayer). The anxieties could no longer be contained through ritual, however, when word of the "witch cake" got out. At this point, the work group function of the main group may have become vitiated by basic assumption phenomena which could no longer be coped with by the specialized work group. Once the work group had been disrupted, shifts between the three basic assumptions most likely occurred, depending on the intensity and nature of the emotions seeking expression at any given time.
The flight or fight assumption appears to have become more deeply translated into the reification of the Devil. An intense need emerged to wage a concrete battle against the Devil and his followers in Salem. By way of this basic assumption, unmitigated hatred could be expressed toward the socially sanctioned enemy (the Devil and his followers). Because the enemy was socially sanctioned, group members could avoid guilt in response to their open expression of vengeance toward the accused. Stoughton, who believed in vigorously prosecuting the witches, may have served as the leader of this basic assumption group. Many of those attacked by the group may have been targeted because they possessed characteristics not condoned by the larger group. The first three individuals prosecuted were likely candidates. According to Levin (1960): "Tituba was . a West Indian and a conjurer; Sarah Good was a destitute, wizened, pipe-smoking hag; Sarah Osborne had been suspected of immorality..." (p. xiv). Panic is evident in that the work group was not designed to cope with a direct attack by the Devil. The fear and rage characteristic of the group's panicked state may have become split off and placed in the afflicted girls, who in turn acted out this affect through their panic attacks ("fits"). Processing the emotions associated with panic through their fits, the afflicted girls may have unburdened the larger group, allowing it to obliterate the enemy in a methodical and seemingly emotionless way.
Elizabeth Parris and Abigail Williams, the nucleus of the group of afflicted individuals responsible for most of the accusations, may have manifested the pairing basic assumption. The afflicted girls provided the hope of purifying the group through their unique ability to identify witches.
Dependency is evident by the group's complete reliance on Stoughton to protect the community through his actions as Chief justice. Rigidly orthodox, Stoughton may have represented God on earth. The community saw him as a powerful source of spiritual nourishment and protection.
The obstruction of work group functioning is indicated by the fact that as the number of arrests increased, the survival of many residents was threatened. Families lost their farms, fields lay fallow, and many community members were left homeless. Upon his return to Salem, Governor Phips (Levin, 1960) describes the consequences of Lieutenant-Governor Soughton's actions as chief justice in a letter to his superiors:
. . . his warrant hath caused the estates, goods and chattels of the executed to be seized and disposed of . . . proceedings hath dissipated the black cloud that threatened this Province with destruction; for whereas this delusion of the Devil did spread and its dismal effects touched the lives and estates of many of their Majesties' Subjects . . . and indeed unhappily clogged and interrupted their Majesties' affairs . . . (p. 94).
The basic assumption phenomenon opposes group development (Bion, 1954). Any movement toward development by the group will most likely be met with a hostile response from the basic assumption level of group functioning. Such resistance to change was evident in Soughton’s rageful reaction when Governor Phipps terminated the executions.
From Menzies-Lyth's (1960, 1988) perspective, one would assume that many of those accused of witchcraft most likely threatened the Puritans' social defense structure, and were therefore easy targets for the projection of impulses. Social defense structures institutionalize primitive defenses, such as splitting and projective identification. Puritan defenses were institutionalized in religious beliefs. Splitting, for example, is evident in the Puritan belief in a war waged between Satan and God. The external battle between God (all good) and Satan (all bad) may have manifested an internal psychic split endured by the Puritans in a desperate attempt to keep the good object untainted by dangerous impulses. Puritans who did not completely conform were viewed as bad and rejected by the community. Conformity required members to attend church regularly, interpret the bible literally, and demonstrate an extensive knowledge of catechism. Many who were accused of witch craft failed to conform to these standards. They may have threatened the social defense structure, eliciting impulses the Puritans sought to repress. John Proctor, for example, was convicted partially on the grounds that he did not attend church regularly. He also expressed skepticism about the whole idea of witchcraft and was consequently viewed as questioning the scriptures, a grave crime. Goody Osborne's conviction rested largely on the fact that she did not know the ten-commandments.
These behaviors were unsettling because they questioned the dangerous, repressive mentality on which the Puritan society was based.
Those accused of being witches elicited feelings linked with freedom, diversity, sexuality and hostility, feelings the Puritans were at great pains to suppress. Puritan ideology dominates and silences the self. The denied feelings are then projected onto others, where they are attacked. Referring to the Nazis' similar use of projection, Miller (1990) says:
The cruelty inflicted on them, the psychic murder of the child they once were, had to be passed on in the same way: each time they sent another Jewish child to the gas ovens, they were in essence murdering the child within themselves . . . (p. 87) . . . The enemy within can at last be hunted down outside . . . (p.91).This purging through assault then enabled the Aryans to ensure their own moral purity . . . (p.80).
The Puritan Elite (like the Aryans) could feel pure, strong and morally right if everything they had feared in themselves since childhood could be attributed to the witches.
The Doctrine of the Elect and the Doctrine of Original Sin institutionalize projective identification. The Doctrine of the Elect enables members to split off in fantasy good parts of the group and place them in the Elect members of the community for safe keeping (the Elect receive God's grace). Once the good parts of the group were inside these members, they felt protected forever because the Elect could do no wrong and were guaranteed eternal salvation.
The Elect were not subject to accusations of witchcraft. Based on the Doctrine of Original Sin, group members who were not Elect were tainted by original sin and could therefore be viewed as containers for bad parts of the group. Non- Elect members had to submit to the ritualistic cycle of publicly confessing their sins, repenting, and finally performing an act of penance to have any hope of being saved. Once non- Elect members were charged with being witches, the accused were treated in such a way as to obtain verification of the fact (e.g., by obtaining a confession through torture). If those accused conformed to the ritualistic cycle and confessed to being a witch, repented, and did penance, they would be saved. Those who refused to confess, however, threatened the social defense structure. They could therefore be used as scapegoats without guilt.
Prior to the Salem witch trials, based on the ideas of Jaques (1954), the Puritan community can be seen as using a ritualized religious system to reinforce defenses typical of the depressive position (obsessive tendencies, mania, and denial). This reflects the theoretical position of Jaques (1954). The accusations of witchcraft appear to suggest a shift to an emphasis on the paranoid-schizoid position. This includes the use of more primitive defenses such as splitting and projective identification. Following the trials, there seems to have been a reintegration of group processes and therefore a lessened reliance on paranoid/schizoid defenses.
Before the trials, for example, non-Elect members of the community who were believed to be tainted by original sin focused on an obsessive struggle to repair the damaged object through prayer, hard work, and meticulous conformity to the mandates of their faith. Minister Parris encouraged group members to confess, repent, and perform ritualized acts of penance. The Puritans were caught up in a constant battle to repair the object through obsessive repetition of the confession, repentance, and penance cycle. Additionally, mania and denial were evident in the notion that there were Elect members of the community. The Elect members represented idealized objects who had been magically repaired through an influx of God's grace. The group denied the mortality of these members (they were saved forever). And denial of the fallibility of the Elect is suggested by the idea that once they received God's grace, they could do no wrong. The depressive line of defense appears to dominate group functioning up until the series of disturbing events (discussed earlier) which led to a build- up of annihilation/persecutory anxiety. This build-up triggered a shift to a paranoid-schizoid way of processing information. Primitive anxieties became dealt with through projective identification. The group projected bad internal objects and impulses onto members of the community who would then absorb these parts and contain them. Once objectified in the accused, these bad parts could more easily be controlled by the group through the elicitation of confessions. The bad objects and impulses could then be given back to the group in a partially metabolized and thus more tolerable form. And if the accused refused to confess to witchcraft, the group could symbolically rid itself of the bad objects and impulses by executing the witch.
Projective identification may be evident in the "fits" that the afflicted girls presented with. These fits were described as being violent and out-of -control. At times, the girls would cry out in terror and make strange sounds. It may be that the girls served as containers for the rage and terror experienced by the larger group. A fit served as verification to the group that the girls did indeed hold the split off bad parts. The girls would then deflect these bad impulses by placing them in those whom they accused of witchcraft. The accused person could absorb the impulses, or deflect them. An example of an accused witch deflecting is evident in the testimony of Tituba. Tituba admits to being a witch and begs for forgiveness. She then accuses two other community members of witchcraft.
Puritan witch hunting also indicates splitting. The group ignored any benevolent acts that an accused individual engaged in prior to being charged with witchcraft. Once deemed a witch, the individual was viewed by the group as all evil, the devil incarnate. The group split off any aspect of the individual's past identity.
Once the threat of execution ended, the group could begin operating from the depressive position. A more humanistic and interactive group process enabled members to reflect on what was taking place. The repressive social outlook underlying the witch hunt began to break down. A prohibition against the use of spectral evidence and the testimony of the bewitched may have led the entire community to reflect more rationally on what had happened. Once the persecutions were questioned, community members began to perceive those who were accused as whole objects. This is suggested by several members of the jury who publicly expressed remorse for potentially convicting innocent people after the executions were stopped. Confessions by various parties suggest an attempt to repair the objects that had been so brutally injured. Community members began to grieve, to process what had occurred. For over a ten year period following the trials, according to Boyer (1976), Salem officials and residents tried obsessively to repair the damaged objects through numerous public apologies and ultimately by awarding sums of money to the descendants of accused witches. Because the group members were more open, more reflective, and able to emotionally process, basic assumptions could no longer derail the group process.
The Salem witch hunts dramatize the close relationship between group phenomena and the psychotic processes in individuals described by Melanie Klein. Group dynamics related to those that led to witch hunting in Salem can emerge in any group. When under stress, groups, like individuals, often regress fundamentally to paranoid-schizoid/early depressive mechanisms -- those of splitting and projective identification. This regressive thinking can interfere with the group's purpose, resulting in blaming, incompetence, scapegoating, and in more severe cases, disruptions and scandals that can threaten entire organizations, as well as those designated as enemies. The recent cases of Enron and Arthur Anderson suggest psychotic-like systemic processes leading to distorted reality testing and ultimately the breakdown of these organizations. This pattern of group interaction has repeated itself numerous times throughout history, affecting entire societies. A Kleinian approach to psychotic group phenomena offers a framework for addressing such dangerous group behaviors.
The regressive defense mechanisms in question cannot be effectively addressed through intellectual discussion. The problem runs too deep for that. Addressing these phenomena requires an approach to groups which responds to the underlying anxiety of the dynamics in question. An example of addressing the anxiety would be for group leaders to cultivate over time the creation of a safe environment in which questioning the group's underlying assumptions is understood as permissible. In this environment, group anxieties could be acknowledged, tolerated, experienced, processed, and responded to rather than dealt with unconsciously by means of primitive defensive mechanisms.
Sadly, most groups in our society are far from being able to handle such an open processing of anxiety. Group members, especially leadership, feel too threatened by an open discussion of the anxieties underlying group activity. Individuals in hierarchical organizations tend to feel they are too vulnerable, that they have too much to hide to enter into such discussion. In our society, when people can no longer tolerate disruptive actions linked with paranoid-schizoid (and early depressive) defense mechanisms, efforts are then made to put an end to these disruptive actions. This often results in great damage to some of the parties involved. Yet the defense mechanisms that helped to generate these disruptive actions are rarely addressed. This is because our society implicitly accepts and relies upon these primitive defense mechanisms, despite their resistance to rational inquiry and the harm they predictably cause. Until we change this social pattern, our work groups will continue to be shaped by, as well as to be now and again disrupted by, the dangerous psychotic-like defenses against anxiety to which our groups especially revert when under unusual stress.
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Hazell, C. (2005). Imaginary Groups. Bloomington, Indiana: Authorhouse.
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Addendum 2 Klein, Spirituality and hatred as a defence mechanism
Before getting to the topics of hatred as a decision or choice and hatred as a kind of defense mechanism, hatred needs to be put in a theoretical context.
The first major focus on hatred from an object-relations orientation is provided by Melanie Klein (1957) who accepted Freud's concept of the death instinct and proposed that the infant experiences the death instinct as fundamental hatred. This basic hatred is a kind of primal rage - an innate hatred by the death instinct of life itself. According to Klein, hatred, therefore, is based in the inherited rejection of the life instinct in all its forms. This primary rejection of life, this hate-filled rage present in the newborn infant is expressed very early in intense envy - it is as though the death instinct based on hatred recognizes the moral superiority of the life instinct and reacts with violent rejection and envy of it.
The earliest aggressive manifestation of the death instinct is in oral sadism. Greed, jealousy, and envy are specific affects (which can become attitudes and lead to decisions), and are derivatives of oral aggression. Greed "aims at the possession of all the goodness that can be extracted from the object" (Wolberg, 1988, p. 246). Jealousy, another expression of the death instinct, is expressed by the prototype fantasy that the frustrating object, originally the breast, willfully withholds its supplies.
Envy, as Wolberg (1998) has characterized it, is a two-person relationship in which the subject begrudges the object for some possession or quality. Oral envy expresses hatred of the withholding object and the wish to spoil it in order to eliminate the source of envy. Envy aims at being as good as the object, and, since this is not possible, at blemishing the goodness of the object. Wolberg (1988) has also noted the following:
It is this spoiling aspect of "envy" that is so destructive to development, since the very source of goodness that the infant depends on, i.e., the breast (mother) and the good things to be achieved from it (her) is turned "bad" by envious attacks. (p. 247)The infant's fantasy of attacking the breast is supported by such processes as spitting, urinating, defecating, and penetrating looking.
Envy often lies at the root of major negative therapeutic reaction and interminable treatment. The patient being unable to tolerate the very help that he or she gets from therapy therefore attacks all help received both from outside the self and inside from his or her own thoughts. Wolberg (1988) has also pointed out in his description of Klein:
A frequent defense against envy and one which makes itself felt often in the therapeutic situation is contempt, which is the patient's effort to defend against his or her unbearable envy and hostility. Envy is very often unconscious and considerable working through of it is needed before it appears in awareness. (p. 249)
In Klein's view (1946), at the age of approximately four months the infant passes through a stage or position in development that she called theparanoid-schizoid position. During this period the infant has two conflicting experiences of the mother's breast and the mother. It is both gratifying in the food and comfort it supplies, which mobilizes erotic feelings; or at other times it is frustrating in its unavailability, which mobilizes aggressive feelings in the infant.
Through the primitive defense-mechanism of splitting, the infant experiences the gratifying and frustrating breast-mother as two separate objects - the "good", or need-satisfying, mother and the "bad" breast or mother; the mother when she is absent or rejecting. (Keep in mind that Klein's theory interprets the quite primitive psychology of the infant, and is thus very much based on the body.) For Klein, the basic human anxiety is the ego's response to aggressive feelings, which are expressions of the death instinct. The fundamental nightmare is that hate, death, evil, and destruction will overwhelm and destroy the loving, libidinal, and gratifying good aspects of self and the breast. The infant must find some way to reduce the anxiety inherent in hating the object that gives life. The infant does this through splitting and projection. Through splitting, the infant maintains the false view that it is not the idealized "good breast" that frustrates but some other devalued "bad breast". Further, through projection, the infant rids himself or herself of aggressive feelings by attributing them to that same bad object, thus preserving the experience that both self and the primary other are "good".
The major costs of these defenses are first, that the accurate perception of reality is compromised, and, unless the infant progresses beyond this position, there will be long-term serious difficulties in reality-testing. Second, the infant has created an external world of persecutory bad objects from whom he fears attack and retaliation.
Under normal reasonably good developmental conditions the infant develops a more integrated and realistic perception of self and others. Gradually, the infant re-owns or re-introjects the projected aggression, leading to feelings of guilt for the newly acknowledged hate and aggression toward the mother. This later stage (position) between six and 12 months, Klein called the depressive-position. Further, the infant perceives the mother in a more realistic light as having both good and bad aspects. Albert Mason, a Kleinian analyst stated, "...the making of the unconscious envy conscious will usually result in the mobilization of more love and concern for the attacked object and therefore some diminution of destructive envious attacks..." (quoted in Wolberg, 1988, p. 249).
However, if the early experiences of aggression and deprivation are too intense, the developing child may never feel safe enough to bring good and bad experiences of self and other together in an integrated whole, and the result will be severe psychopathology and a continued reliance on primitive defenses.
Kernberg (1991) in a major theoretical statement defined hatred as a complex aggressive affect whose primary aim is to destroy its object (a person), who is both needed and desired and the destruction of whom is equally needed and desired. The cognitive aspect of hatred which includes powerful rationalizations is chronic and stable and exists in mild, moderate, or severe forms. Kernberg has accepted Mahler's rather than Klein's developmental sequence, placing the period of splitting in the second year of life during the separation-individuation period, after the separation of self and object representations has been achieved. (See, e.g., Mahler, Pine, & Bergman, 1975.) Kernberg has clarified the nature of self representations by positing the existence of good self, bad self, good object, and bad object representations where the differentiation between self and object representations can appear blurred in Klein. Further, he has postulated that there is always a specific connecting affect between each self and object representation (for example, "contemptuous-mother feels disgust for worthless-child").
In Kernberg's (1991) work, persons with the syndrome of malignant narcissism, ego-syntonic aggression (aggression acceptable to the self without guilt or anxiety), paranoid and anti-social tendencies and a psychopathic transference (deceptiveness as a dominant transference feature) may consistently and ruthlessly attempt to exploit, destroy, or dehumanize significant others. Such people may give no evidence of rage or overt hatred in daily life or in transference to a psychotherapist. They may appear essentially aloof and indifferent. However, their dreams and fantasies will typically be sadistic. Also, their ego-syntonic sadism may he expressed in a conscious ideology of aggressive self-affirmation (nationalism, fascism, communism, racism). They may also have chronic suicidal tendencies which do not emerge as part of a depressive syndrome, but rather in emotional crises with the underlying fantasy that to be able to take one's life reflects superiority and triumph over the usual fear of pain and death. To kill one's self, in these patients' fantasies means to take sadistic control over others or to leave a world they feel they cannot control. The paranoid orientation of these patients (which psychodynamically is connected to the projection onto others of their own sadism) is manifest in an exaggerated experience of others as fools, enemies or idols.
Kernberg (1991) has commented that the therapist will often have a hard time maintaining support in the face of the patient's envy-based attacks and rejection of valid interpretation. The therapist's feeling of being emptied, exhausted, frustrated, in this process must be controlled, otherwise it may stimulate countertransference hostility which encourages the patient's acting-out of hatred and envy.
For Kernberg, hatred is not always pathological. That is, when it is a response to an objective, real danger, a threat to the survival of self and/or those one loves, hatred, for Kernberg, is a normal claboration of rage aimed at eliminating the danger. (We interpret this situation as primarily involving justified anger.) But unconscious motivations usually enter and intensify hatred, as in revenge. As a chronic characterological predisposition, hatred is always pathological.
The therapist's efforts co resist and confront the patient's malevolent attacks on everything valuable may be experienced by the patient as a brutal attack by the therapist. This leads to the emergence of direct rage and hatred in the transference; the therapist commonly observes the transformation of the original hidden psychopathic transference into a paranoid form. Next, systematic clarification, confrontation and interpretation of the hostility toward the therapist, others, and the patient's own self can, along wich other positive conditions, transform the paranoid transference into a depressive one. For Kernberg the sequence of stages (psychopathic - to paranoid - to depressive transferences) is typical of the resolution of severe hatred in therapy with many borderline patients.
Strong to very strong degrees of hatred normally do not focus on destruction of the object(s) or relationships with them. Instead the patient keeps the object and makes it suffer pain so the patient can experience conscious enjoyment of the person's suffering. This sadism may be expressed as a sexual perversion with actual physical pain or injury to the object or a characterological sadism as in the malignant narcissism syndrome or sadomasochistic personality structure. Again, the aim is not to eliminate but maintain the relationship with the hated object so as to torture it.
Kernberg pointed out that primitive hatred often takes the form of an effort to destroy the potential for a gratifying human relationship. Underlying this intention to destroy reality and communication in intimate relationships is conscious and unconscious envy of the object, particularly of the person who is not controlled from within by similar hatred. Clinically, Kernberg states, it is impressive how, under conditions of intense hatred, a patient's capacity for self-awareness is practically obliterated.
Kernberg (1991) has described a process called "fixation to the trauma" (p. 227). It is one of the most consistent phenomena in transferences dominated by the acting-out of hatred, especially its stronger forms. In the process, the patient becomes intensely dependent on the psychotherapist and also, simultaneously hostile. At the same time, in the patient's fantasies and anxieties, there is also the assumption that, unless the patient consistently fights off the therapist, the patient willbe subjected to a similar onslaught of hatred and sadistic exploitation and persecution by the therapist. By using the defense process of projective identification, the patient is attributing to the therapist his own hatred and sadism. This illustrates, for Kernberg, the intimate links between persecutor and persecuted, master and slave, sadist and masochist; all referring in the last analysis to the sadistic, frustrating, teasing mother and the helpless, paralyzed infant. Such early traumatic experience is seen by Kernberg as the enviromental cause of the pathology, thos he rejects much of Klein's emphasis on innate drives.
For example, as Kernberg noted, research by Fraiberg (1982) and Galenson (1986) identified infants' internalization of aggressive behavior of mothers toward them and these infants' replication of their mother's behavior in relationship with her and with others. An intense motivation for maintaining the link with the hated object has been observed in the study of physically battered children. This was given theoretical emphasis rather early by Fairbairn (1940/1952, 1944/1952; see also Grotstein & Rinsley, 1994) who connected past relationships with others to the origin of defense mechanisms. This intense attachment to the frustrating mother is the primary origin of the transformation of aggressivity - rage reaction - into hatred. Kernberg (1991) continued his analysis of hatred by observing that the very contradictory and unreliable behaviors of the mother reinforce the psychopathic end of the hatred spectrum. The infant (and child) interprets mother's behavior as a betrayal be the potentially "all good" object who becomes unpredictably and overwhelmingly "bad". The child then identifies himself or herself, in turn, with a betraying object and begins focusing on a revengeful destruction of all positive object relations. Here, Kernberg believes, is the probable ultimate cause of Jacobson's (1971) "paranoid urge to betray". The most severe forms of psychopathological attachment behavior have been described in infants with mothers whose behavior combined abandonment, chaos, violence, and teasing overstimulation with chronic frustration.
When conditions are positive, the integration of all-good and all-bad internalized object relations may proceed and object (person) constancy develops. Ego-functions and superego structures then develop. The ego is separated from the id by repression and a definite tripartite structure (id-ego-superego) consolidates.
When this developmental process only partially completes itself, then the psychopathology of hatred is in the superego structures. The integration of infantile sadistic superego precursors with the preoedipal ideal-self plus oedipal prohibitions and demands lead to sadistic superego demands, depressive-masochistic psychopathology and characterological sadism expressed in cruel and sadistic ethical systems. The induction of shame in humiliation of others as character traits are other manifestations of hatred often integrated into the superego. At this stage one is close to the more severe forms of neurotic function.
An essential point needs to be made here - a point that is not part of Kernberg's position - namely that hatred in most adults at its core is not affect but volition. Hatred in childhood can exist primarily as an affect, and not as a willed decision, for example, as a response to severe abuse. Presumably very little true volition is involved in the experiences that set up fixation and developmental arrest. The point being made, however, is that adults, at some later time, do either freely decide to accept their hatred or to work at rejecting it. Even more important, in psychotherapy itself, the patient is confronted with a choice. He or she must decide to start, or not to start, the process of letting go of hatred and moving toward forgiveness. Also, as previously noted, for the adult, much of the affect associated with hatred is not a primary cause of hatred but a consequence of previously built cognitive structures, at least some of which involved acts of will. Further, hatred involves a decision, a refusal to love and forgive; a refusal to request, accept, or give forgiveness. In the willed sense, hatred for self or others is never healthy. t never produces psychological health.
Obviously, the patient does not have the freedom to stop hating in the sense of easily or suddenly abandoning patholgical structures built up over many years. But, as stated, patients do have the freedom to begin to stop hating. (In part, this freedom is demonstrated in the patients' continued participation in therapy.) Although persons/patients must freely choose to try to escape their past, in many - probably most - cases, this is far from adequate. Two other forces are needed; one is the force provided by the therapist. This is the rationale behind John Gartner's (1992) approach, and most psychodynamic therapy today. Therapists try to help the patient evercome splitting and the tendency to hate of an often paranoid kind. In dealing with borderline or other seriously disturbed patients, they are called on to show love, and to respond to hatred, anger, and criticism with patience and support. Therapists must often turn the other cheek.
The other force is grace which operates even in natural psychotherapy, whether the secular therapists believe in it or not. But certainly in a Christian therapeutic context, grace can be explicitly recognized and called on. Even so, the fact that so many very disturbed patients never recover raises the basic mystery of suffering and sin. And for this mystery we have no explanation.
In psychoanalytic terms, our emphasis on the patient's will can be interpreted as an example of Meissner's (1993) "self as agent." Meissner interprets the self as a super-ordinate structural construct representing the whole person and containing the willing or responsible self as agent, as actor.
After the patient moves into the depression stage (Vitz & Mango, 1997), the therapist should be especially open to windows of oppertunity for forgiveness. These windows are moments of free choice that occurs before, or sometimes after, depressive or hate-filled thinking takes over (such thinking of course makes the choice of forgiveness essentially impossible.) Often these moments of possible forgiveness come as the patient reflects on his or her troubles and past; these moments are not dominated by affect, and the patient shows some psychological distance from the hated person. In short, these are occasions when the therapist can suggest the possibility of forgiveness. One presumed precondition of such oppertunities of forgiveness is the patient's integration of loving and hateful feelings towards the relevant person (e.g., Gartner, 1992).
hatred, by which I mean hatred of a person, not of a behavior or injustice, in spite of secondary gains, is at bottom fundamentally pathological. We also view hatred as a defense mechanism - which is not to imply that all defense mechanisms are inherently pathological. Some (e.g., sublimation, repression) are healthy when employed properly. The development of basic ego strength and an adequate measure of self worth often requires defensive or protective psychological responses - rahter as the body wards off threats to its integrity.
Examples of hatred's various defenses follow. The number and utility of these mechanisms account in large part for the appeal, power, and stability of hatred. What is being defended, in hating, is the narcissism of the psyche as it exists both prior to true ego and oedipal development and in more developed form as found in normal ego structures. Major examples of hatred as a defense are the following:
Hatred can be used as an unconscious defense against painful memories and affects. For example, as long as the individual hates, he or she is able to ward off the underlying hurt and sadness caused by the person who gave rise to the hate. In other words, hate defends the person against the source memory (Fitzgibbons, 1986) and thus defends one from the reality of a depressing, humiliating, guilty, or inadequate past.
Hate is also used to protect one from becoming vulnerable in loving relationships since expression of hatred tends to keep others at a distance. That is, hatred can protect one frmo the risks of intimate relationships. Many people are willing to forgive only when they realize that this process does not mean that they have to allow themselves to be vulnerable to an insensitive person (Fitzgibbons, 1986).
. Hatred of self and/or others can defend against perceiving and accepting present reality in that hatred almost always involves splitting. It keeps one from recognizing that one's self is seriously flawed and that others often have positive attributes. In this way hatred can reinforce irrational beliefs in one's omnipotent, omniscient self-ideals.
Also, patients filled with hatred benefit from self-pity or the "sick role" that the hatred of self or others maintains (Fitzgibbons, 1986). The self-pity and victim status which are so popular today often express this benefit of hatred. That is, victim status defends one's narcissism by rationalizing shame, inadequacy, and faliures (see Sykes, 1992).
Hate also is a form of self-indulgant laziness in that it keeps the person from having enough energy and time to actually attempt realistic goals where failure would be unbearable. If the patient is frightened of the world, hatred keeps the world with its challenges at a distance. The hated person is responsible for one's failures; again, the narcissistic self-evaluation is defended.
. It also seems important to recognize that forgiveness can be psychologically "destructive." For example, hatred can often maintain a relationship. Forgiveness has the effect of destroying both the hated object (because one gives up the hate relationship) and the idealized object (which is recognized as being sullied, and needing forgiveness). To forgive another person puts that person outside of one's omnipotent control and brings them into reality.
There is no guarantee that the object, and the relationship to it, will survive this process. (Winnicott's, 1975, observations on the survival of the transitional object may provide insights here.)
The process of forgiveness requires that people be willing to break the hatred that is the only tie to an object with the hope that some kind of new relationship will develop afterwards. But that is risky - thus hatred can be a defense against losing a relationship, a defense against feelings of emptiness.
Familiar defense-mechanisms usually associated with sexual anxiety can often derive from anxiety associated with hatred. Examples include the following: rationalization, denial, and projective identification (the unconscious fantasy of aggressively forcing parts of one's feelings, motives, or ego into another). These are all used to maintain defensive hatred. For example, hatred of others can defend against the anxiety of loss of love. Consider a person dependent upon others (e.g., peers) who supports hatred of a social or racial variety. This person's racial or social hatred wards off anxieties about being socially rejected; such hatred may also reflect low self-esteem,, pathological dependency on some hate-filled person, and even express an infantile symbiotic object-relatedness with another (e.g., Mahler & Furer, 1968).
Finally, and most importantly. people's narcissism or pride is strongly protected by hatred. For example, the patient can hate the self for failing to meet his or her self-chosen ideals or infantile, unrealistic expectations. That is, hatred defends against attacks on one's narcissistic ego ideal; hatred wards off shame.
Perhaps even more common is the situation where moral pride in one's self is defended by hatred. After all, you are morally superior to the "sinful," or "immoral," or "truly horrible" person who hurt you. Such feelings of moral superiority are probably the most frequently observed rewards of hatred.
Aside from the important defensive aspects of hatred, there is the basic pleasure that expressing hatred provides. After all, hatred is fueled by a primary drive or by such things as early mother-infant trauma, and the expression of such aggression, like that of sex, is "fun" in its own right. Kerberg (1990) has acknowledged this is his treatment of "hatred as pleasure." But the joy of the direct expression of violence, anger, etc. has long been known. Hatred and revenge provide purpose to life and make people feel alive and powerful. The pleasure of revenge in fantasy or fact is a common theme in literature and the media; and of course control of others has obvious rewards. Because of these positive rewards deriving from hatred, it is not surprising that forgiveness is viewed by many people as weakness; as a giving up of power.
In short, hate and all that it supports - narcissism, protection from shame, feelings of moral superiority, the desire to keep hold of a relationship that might be lost through forgiveness, moral laziness, denial of reality, power over others, self-pity, and the sheer pleasure of hating - are usually easier to sustain than the risky behaviors which nonetheless represent positive and healing resonses to pain and suffering.
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