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28 Responses

  1. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil February 27, 2012 at 10:21 am |

    Just a note to anyone considering picking up Discipline and Punish: the opening chapter is a graphic and very gory description of an execution.

  2. Di Latte
    Di Latte February 27, 2012 at 11:46 am |

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts this week, William. They’ve been extremely validating for me, both personally and in light of my current professional goals in the mental health field. Thanks so much.

  3. chava
    chava February 27, 2012 at 12:09 pm |

    The links to the books don’t work, fyi. Nice post!

  4. Matt
    Matt February 27, 2012 at 12:40 pm |

    Drama of the gifted child was pretty awesome.

  5. Jadey
    Jadey February 27, 2012 at 2:37 pm |

    Until William gets the chance to fix them, you can access the links by right-clicking on them instead and selecting “Copy Link” (or whatever version of that your browser says – it should be an option), then pasting that into the address bar and editing it manually to remove the junk at the beginning.

    E.g.,

    http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2012/02/27/being-an-advocate-and-an-ally/%E2%80%9Dhttp://www.scribd.com/doc/2318932/The-Drama-of-the-Gifted-Child%E2%80%9D

    becomes

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/2318932/The-Drama-of-the-Gifted-Child%E2%80%9D

  6. Vee
    Vee February 27, 2012 at 2:43 pm |

    Oh no, is the series over already? Could you do another post on oppression in the mental health field? Please?

  7. wl
    wl February 27, 2012 at 2:49 pm |

    I was hoping for a post on Borderline Personality Disorder.

  8. Donna L
    Donna L February 27, 2012 at 4:51 pm |

    The problem I have with books written like The Drama of the Gifted Child is that I have a visceral dislike for them that makes it impossible for me to read them. They’re just way too full of discussions about Oedipal complexes and orality and anality, and passages like this one:

    In many societies, little girls suffer additional discrimination because they are girls. Since women, however, have control of the new-born and the infants, these erstwhile little girls can pass on to their children at the most tender age the contempt from which they once had suffered. Later, the adult man will idealize his mother, since every human being needs the feeling that he was really loved; but he will despise other women, upon whom he thus revenges himself in place of his mother. And these humiliated adult women, in turn, if they have no other means of ridding themselves of their burden, will revenge themselves upon their own children. This indeed can be done secretly and without fear of reprisals, for the child has no way of telling anyone, except perhaps in the form of a perversion or obsessional neurosis, whose language is sufficiently veiled not to betray the mother.

    It all seems about as plausible to me, as some kind of generally-applicable rule, as attributing misogyny to memories of birth trauma. And as just another way of blaming mothers.

  9. EG
    EG February 27, 2012 at 6:13 pm |

    I think the problem with your assessment of the mommy-blaming tradition, William, is that it doesn’t address the vast span of what mothers have been taking the blame for over the past century. According to the research I’ve done on psychoanalytic–as well as other cultural traditions–history of mother blaming, mothers have shouldered the blame for: alcoholism, suicide, schizophrenia, neurosis, impotence, homosexuality, frigidity, promiscuity, ulcers, asthma, sleepwalking, colitis, hyperactivity, and inability to deal with color blindness (!).

    These speak to me of the fantasy of the omnipotent mother–after all, she seemed omnipotent when we were all infants, didn’t she? But she’s not. She’s human, and yes, that means she can fuck up and fuck up her kids, but it also means that her powers are deeply limited.

    This is the same fantasy that leads women to feel like defective failures if they end up using formula instead of breast-feeding, the idea that mothers can determine everything, so they need to do everything perfectly. This is the idea that made Winnicott’s “good-enough mother” seem liberating to my mother, because it meant that not being perfect wasn’t going to doom me to a life of neurotic misery! Fucked-up mothers can deeply damage their children, it’s true, but to generalized from that to say that damage most likely indicates a fucked-up mother is a logical fallacy, but it’s one that psychoanalysis, and other schools of thought, have fallen into for so long, that I’m just not willing to give the benefit of the doubt on mommy-blaming any longer.

  10. EG
    EG February 27, 2012 at 6:15 pm |

    On a different topic altogether, I also admire Mourning and Melacholia. Although I think the division Freud makes between the two is a little too clean and compartmentalized, it has felt like a very good guide to me.

  11. lorobird
    lorobird February 27, 2012 at 7:05 pm |

    This whole discussion on the role of the mother and her blame is really, really interesting. I’ve been thinking about conceptions of motherhood, and women as mothers, for my dissertation. Do you know any fascist or fascistic texts or theories which deal with (constructions of) motherhood, and madness and mental illness?

    Thanks for the post, too.

  12. Justamblingalong
    Justamblingalong February 27, 2012 at 7:19 pm |

    We can watch out mouthes and stop attributing evil to madness by calling bastards “crazy” or “insane.”

    While we’re at it, let’s stop attributing evil to illegitimate children by calling assholes, ‘bastards,’ k?

  13. miga
    miga February 27, 2012 at 9:15 pm |

    Here’s a site I find useful for both those with MI and those without.

    http://theicarusproject.net/

  14. EG
    EG February 27, 2012 at 9:16 pm |

    Oh, absolutely. Half of my dissertation was on mother-daughter relationships in feminist psychoanalytic theory; I didn’t mean to imply that psychoanalysis had not moved on since the bad old days. There’s been a lot of amazing work done.

  15. EG
    EG February 27, 2012 at 9:20 pm |

    illegitimate children

    I believe the term you want is “born out of wedlock.”

  16. Justamblingalong
    Justamblingalong February 27, 2012 at 9:32 pm |

    I believe the term you want is “born out of wedlock.”

    Better still.

  17. Justamblingalong
    Justamblingalong February 27, 2012 at 9:35 pm |

    I believe the term you want is “born out of wedlock.”

    Except, I’m not sure I really like making ‘wedlock’ normative. How about just ‘children who’s parents aren’t married,” or if that’s too wordy, ‘children?’

    Either way, bastard isn’t cool. Illegitimate probably isn’t great either, but at least it isn’t used as a catch-all pejorative.

  18. EG
    EG February 27, 2012 at 9:48 pm |

    I dunno, I dislike “illegitimate” more. Because I haven’t heard the word “bastard” used to mean a child born out of wedlock since the last time I read Shakespeare, which, OK, was relatively recently, but it’s still not modern. But conservatives are always railing against “illegitimacy.” Children aren’t legitimate or illegitimate. They all have as much right to respect as each other. “Born out of wedlock” just describes the circumstances of their birth. I don’t think it normalizes marriage any more than “illegitimate” does, and it gets rid of the implication that somehow the kid’s identity is called into question by the marital status of its parents.

  19. Justamblingalong
    Justamblingalong February 27, 2012 at 10:37 pm |

    I dunno, I dislike “illegitimate” more.

    This is probably more about our respective experiences than any objective badness of the two words, but for me it sounds like it refers to a technicality- i.e. children used to be legally legitimate or illegitimate heirs- as opposed to bastard, which sounds intentionally insulting.

    Because I haven’t heard the word “bastard” used to mean a child born out of wedlock since the last time I read Shakespeare, which, OK, was relatively recently, but it’s still not modern.

    Really? I hear it used by religious leaders in my community all the time.

    Children aren’t legitimate or illegitimate. They all have as much right to respect as each other. “Born out of wedlock” just describes the circumstances of their birth.

    I agree, actually. Hm. Well, until a better term comes around (or, hopefully, the distinction becomes irrelevant), that’s the one I’ll use. Thanks! In any case, though, I do feel strongly that ‘bastard’ is a good one to retire.

  20. EG
    EG February 27, 2012 at 10:51 pm |

    Really? I hear it used by religious leaders in my community all the time.

    I had no idea it was still in use that way. That’s horrible. Shows what difference a cultural context can make.

  21. Andrew Pari, LCSW
    Andrew Pari, LCSW February 28, 2012 at 8:50 pm |

    I only see it when I drink ale, and then it’s Arrogant.

    Good series, William. I came late to the game and only began reading yesterday. I enjoyed your insights. I wonder if there is a feminist psychologist reading here that would like to contribute a guest post or two herself. Would be fitting to continue the exploration with that viewpoint.

  22. konkonsn
    konkonsn February 29, 2012 at 2:48 am |

    William, do you have any recommendations for books that share some of the viewpoints you’ve been discussing with regards to anxiety disorders (OCD specifically, but I’m up for all anxiety)?

  23. konkonsn
    konkonsn February 29, 2012 at 2:50 am |

    Bleh, I should extend that invitation to anyone, really.

  24. William
    William February 29, 2012 at 2:00 pm |

    Konkonsn:

    Thats a good question. The unfortunate answer is…not really. One of the downsidees to an education which stresses holistic understanding and development of a coherent individual point of view is that I’ve got piles and piles of books on shelves but most of them end up being primary sources with distinctly clinical outlooks. It also a difficult question because anxiety tends to permeate madness and even people who aren’t diagnosed with a primary anxiety disorder are likely to display a lot of anxiety. Anxiety is to psychology what pain is to medicine: a good indicator that something is wrong but virtually universal in the work we do.

    I know that NYU’s “Essential Papers on…” series has a volume devoted to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (I tracked it down on Amazon and its still in print). I own two of the other volumes in the series (“Essential Papers on the Psychology of Women,” which is an incredible text for understanding the impact feminism has had on psychoanalysis, and “Essential Papers on Dreams”), have been extremely happy with both of them, and have heard good things about other volumes but I have no specific knowledge of their OCD collection beyond press releases. If it is at all like the rest of the books in the series it will emphasize a historical perspective and chart the evolution of how OCD has been understood, with a distinctly psychoanalytic bent, from Freud to today using well-respected and seminal papers from a broad range of authors.

    Hope that helps!

  25. konkonsn
    konkonsn March 2, 2012 at 3:04 pm |

    All of those sound amazing, so I’ll have to look them up. I like that they have psychoanalytic bents, too. I was a psych minor some four years ago, and until I started reading your series, I honestly thought of psychoanalysis/Freud as sort of the Thomas Jefferson of clinical psychology: an important founding father, and you can find threads of it throughout the discipline, but we don’t talk too much about it anymore because it’s outdated (and all kinds of problematic). So it’ll be interesting to see how it’s evolved. I’m still very green in the field, and I took a four year break while working on some other things, so it’ll be nice to jump back in.

  26. William
    William March 2, 2012 at 4:42 pm |

    So it’ll be interesting to see how it’s evolved. I’m still very green in the field, and I took a four year break while working on some other things, so it’ll be nice to jump back in.

    Well, if you’re jumping back in, let me also suggest Nancy McWilliams’ books (Psychoanalytic Diagnosis, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, and Psychoanalytic Case Formulation). She’s one of the biggest names in psychoanalysis today and those three books are modern, comprehensive, well written, and brilliant. I’ll also throw a shout out for Deborah Luepnitz’ book Schopenhauer’s Porcupines as an excellent peek into the way some modern, post-feminist-revolution analysts think. Finally, when it comes to clinical training and technique, Patrick Casement’s book Learning from the Patient is incredible.

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