Out of Treatment, a Psychoanalytic Interlude

In psychoanalytic terms, fantasies are some sort of frame or window. Variations within the structure of the frame are virtually infinite, but if you want to go through the frame and act out your fantasy, you die.

— credited to Sylvère Lotringer,
but probably written by Chris Kraus

I craved therapy because I wanted that experience of death where I could come to terms with my subjective alienation from Symbolic Discourse. I should have read more Lacan to realize that I’d never be willing to accept this alienation without experiencing psychosis or schizophrenia, or whichever serious mental illness he felt like assigning — during his weekend seminars — to reconciliation with the Big Other. I associated psychotherapy with a vain, but worthwhile, attempt to at least placate Angry Otherness.

Readers have privately written in to me, shocked that Michael the Therapist would oppose my seeing a Psychoanalyst while treating me pharmacologically. One called him “arrogant.” Perhaps that’s the case. He was pretty arrogant, though not as arrogant as I was. Obviously, his disciplinary prejudice against Psychoanalysis factored into his reluctance to refer me. Also, I think something else was at work. I believe he was opposed to sending me, in particular, to an analyst. I would often ask questions like, “if these medications are striking directly at the primary processes, what about the secondary, post-traumatic, structures? Aren’t those what I’d see an analyst about?” He strongly objected to my use of the lingo. He refused to answer direct questions, such as whether or not something like Wellbutrin was designed for “the primary processes.” Once he flat out said, “I think you know that you’re mocking Psychoanalysis by using that language.”

— I don’t mean to. Why do you think that?
— Your tone, and the fact that you seem to be more concerned that anti-depressants don’t impact sexual function than whether the biological brain is where the ‘primary processes’ take place.
— Well, ‘sexual function’ is a pretty primary process for me. Becky thinks that Wellbutrina would make a good drag name, though I personally am partial to Ms. Anthropy.
— That’s a good drag name, but would you please try to be serious?
— Sorry.

After a year of badgering, he eventually referred me to an analyst in my neighborhood, telling me that his practice specialized in academics. I came back into Michael’s office after two weeks, seriously displeased.

— How did you like therapy?
— My treatment is over.
— Are you cured?
— That’s not funny. You sabotaged my psychotherapy by recommending that guy.
— How did I do that? Tell me how it went.

The therapist worked out of a depressing building in my neighborhood. “It felt very ghetto,” I accused. “At least it’s in the same building as my bank so that I can have an excuse if someone I know sees me there. But you should have sent me downtown. I don’t want to see the usual people around me. And have you met him?” Michael had not. He had been given ‘a strong recommendation’ by colleagues. I described how the analyst looked like Chris Claremont. “He not only had the girth, but also the smug attitude I associate with ‘the Mighty Claremont.'” Michael commented (for the millionth time) that we needed to work on my hostility to overweight people, which was fair enough since, as a former fatso during my youth, my open hatred of fatness bordered on serious pathology. Fat is a Feminist Issue was not my playbook at the time. “The real problem is that he talked too much. He was very mouthy and discussed his personal history with me.” I told him the story.

When I entered the Psychoanalyst’s office, he introduced himself and asked me how I felt. I answered by saying that “I feel vague today.” He countered that he was “feeling great today.” I was tired and didn’t appreciate the forced jocularity. He then asked what I’d done that afternoon. I explained that I’d been at ’round-up,’ a lower level editorial meeting at the journal. “We have two round-ups per issue. For each one, we split the articles ahead of time, read through them and go line by line through our corrections out loud at the meeting to see if the others agree with us. It always leads to these huge wastes of time as the Manuscript Editor and his second-in-command rehash the same arguments about grammar that they’ve been having for years, and then they have the same show-downs over the manual of style. Does Socrates have an “s-apostrophe-s” when used as a possessive or is it just “s-apostrophe”? Which Greek philosophers get the “s-apostrophe” and which aren’t so important and therefore get the less prestigious “s-apostrophe-s”? It’s boring, and today I was chastised.” He said the whole process sounded ‘intriguing,’ not boring.

I told him that I’d like to discuss how I was chastised. He granted me permission to “go ahead.” I thanked him and showed that discipline had come in two ways; one very passive aggressive and one more overt. “At the start of the meeting, I mocked the use of the word “constellate.” Two of the articles I’d been assigned had people “constellating” concepts. I told the guys at the meeting that I thought people need to start using the word “edema” in theoretical articles. Julia Kristeva used it once, and I was very struck by the usage. But it never came into fashion.”

Michael interrupted.
— Edema?
— Yeah, it’s when an organ is swollen with excess liquid.
— I know what it is, but why would you want critics to start using the term?
— Why not? Why should critics be discussing astrology and constellations?
— What did [the analyst’s name] say?
— He said that my suggestion was ‘fascinating.’ Which is bullshit. It wasn’t fascinating. It was just a comment I made designed to elicit annoyance from the others at round-up.
— Of course.

“It goes without saying that the rest of the editorial staff did not find my comment fascinating. As usual, they just stared at me as if I hadn’t said anything of importance. They find me anything but fascinating. I’m sure I annoy the hell out of them. I’m getting really sick of those guys. They sit there and edit while listening to the Mekons — a band I hate. How can you concentrate on apostrophes while listening to the Mekons? And they have no respect for the classics, like Julia Kristeva, Lucien Goldmann, or Émile Benveniste. For such philistines, they’re awfully uppity.” The analyst asked what I meant by “uppity.”

— What did he think you meant?
— Honestly, I think he wondered if I was being racist.
— Because you said uppity.
— Yes. People in the neighborhood are like that. It’s ridiculous.
— Did you call him out on his assumption?

I elaborated, “for such nobodies, they sure attribute a lot of importance to their minor contribution is what I mean by uppity.” To make up for my near collision with racism, I added, “And they get defensive when I claim that post-colonial criticism has any value other than mental masturbation. I am not on the same page with them when it comes to 911.” The analyst asked what page I was on. “What goes around comes around is the page I am on.” I’m sure he was offended. It always offends people when I say that. He became still, and it was clear that he hadn’t been following my theory references anyway, so I turned to the second incident. “Basically, I was criticized for finding one of the articles stupid and illogical. When I pointed out a series of logical errors, the Manuscript Editor told me that the ‘real’ editors — who are all professors who do nothing! — are the ones who get to criticize the arguments. I’m supposed to pay more attention to grammar. As if a journal that publishes Jacques Derrida’s Alzheimer’s induced meditations about how he isn’t sure if his cat likes to watch him while he’s naked and brushing his teeth doesn’t have more pressing problems than grammar!”

I explained that I was really sick of the Manuscript Editor, who was my boss. “He’s a stoner who got a Ph.D. in English even though he hates to teach. Now he just edits, and in his spare time he writes essays about Jack London and goes to Jack London conferences and publishes in Jack London journals. The way he talks you’d think Call of the Wild is the greatest classic of all time.”

— This is when the Psychoanalyst made me angry.
— What did he do?

He told me that he loves Call of the Wild; that it was one of his favorite novels growing up.

— What the fuck? Jack London? Jack London! Has Jack London suddenly become a hot topic and I’m unaware of it? Is Jack London now stylish? Are people discussing Sea-Wolf and White Fang at cocktail parties? Is my boss undergoing treatment with my psychoanalyst, and are they discussing Jack London’s oeuvre together?

Then out of nowhere he said his father “would be appalled by the state of literary criticism today.” The state of literary criticism. He told me, “My father used to collect sixteenth and seventeenth century manuscripts,” and that the kind of criticism I was discussing was a disservice to the kind of collecting his father done. “A disservice.”

Michael laughed a little maniacally when I told him this.

— How did you react?
— I told him that I was very uncomfortable with his mention of his father. He asked me why, and I wasn’t sure what to say. Finally, I said, “Because

  1. I can’t stand people who collect manuscripts.
  2. A professor once became angry at my ‘pornographic’ interpretation of Milton’s Comus.
  3. I don’t find the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries very interesting, and have a whole stereotype in my head about people who admire the literature of that period.
  4. You just gave me personal information. That’ s ammunition I won’t be able to help using later on when I start to hate you during transference and counter-transference.”

— Also, I don’t really care about his opinions on literature or literary theory, but that would have been rude and confrontational to say. He told me that he considers therapy a ‘two-sided conversation’ and that I would have to learn to allow him to express himself. I don’t want a conversation, Michael! At least you rarely disclose anything personal about yourself, so that when I’m feeling aggressive towards you, I don’t have material at hand to attack you.
— Rarely? When have I ever told you anything personal about myself?
— You disclose sometimes. There was that time I told you about how I had crashed my bike in front of the ROTC Nazi on the crew team. You told me that once you had overturned your bike at gay pride when you rode the wrong way on a one-way street.
— I was empathizing with you when I told you that.
— I know, and I empathized back at you and hated all those Pride faggots for laughing at you. Then I felt homophobic and guilty for hating them, and then I began to resent you for telling me the story in the first place.
— Such complicated reactions. I apologize for burdening you with a homophobic reaction. Are you finished with the Psychotherapy?
— For now, I guess. It was too much of an effort. I don’t want to ‘converse’ with this guy. I was very drained after talking to him. Everything about him made me hostile, and I’d just be abusive to him if I went again.
— You place people in the position of having to manage you.
— That’s a really good, non-pharmaceutical, observation.
— Speaking of, do you need any refills?

Coming Soon in Out of Treatment!

The series is ending in just a few short episodes and the shit is going to hit the fan! Don’t miss the ‘serial killer incident.’ Michael the Therapist & darknessatnoon have a breakthrough! Michael the Therapist tries to pimp darknessatnoon out, and hates his boyfriend! Someone commits suicide! Be sure to catch the final episodes of this blog’s only personal entries!

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4 Responses to “Out of Treatment, a Psychoanalytic Interlude”

  1. absenteedebate Says:

    I immediately searched for more images of this Chris Claremont. He’s a very attractive bear.

  2. darknessatnoon Says:

    Are you trying to cause me agony?! First someone suggests I turn this series into a graphic novel, co-scripted and plotted with CC, and now someone else calls him attractive! I suppose I’ve practically invited such sadistic attacks from my readers.

  3. darknessatnoon Says:

    There will be follow-up on CC and our points of agreement in my “Why Jean Grey is the Worst” post, forthcoming.

  4. Tucker Stone Says:

    holy shit, i know what i’m reading after i finish these goddamned gift bags. what the hells? this looks amazing, like ray shmuckles amazing.oh, and i just read the dark phoenix saga and i’m all eh? eh? eh, motherfucker, eh?

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