63. The New Analysand

Part 1 of a series of the same name.

ALTHOUGH IN THEORY I'M not taking on new patients, I somehow contrived to begin treatment with a new analysand today - I'll call him A. Profile: writer in his late 30s. (Another bloody writer - seems to have become something of a specialty!) Works as a 'corporate propagandist' (his words), i.e. is a copywriter, dislikes the work (inevitably). Paid handsomely - could possibly get three or four years out of him. Says he wants to be a novelist. Claims to have written copiously but never published anything. Blames perfectionism rather than lack of talent (self-deluded?). Other symptoms: conflicted about love and sex (self-described romantic yet severely phobic about relationships - typical writer!) - currently single but infatuated (added, "As always!"). Unable to hold down full-time employment, pathologically “nomadic” - claims to have moved house 26 times in his life and six times in the past two years alone, each time for a different reason. Unable to identify underlying cause. Migrant family: French on paternal side and on maternal side Armenian (which he described pompously as “a kind of Christian Jew"). Born in France, migrated at 6yo. "Mostly" heterosexual (will probe for the sordid details in subsequent sessions!). Anxious mother, absent father. Older brother, younger sister. No memories of childhood sexual trauma (yet! seek and ye shall find, as I always say), although mentioned social phobia. Early diagnosis: narcissistic melancholic. I granted him this appointment against my better judgment due to email inquiry expressing interest in studying Bergian analysis (enrollment numbers down again this year - must reply to yesterday's email from department head). AL asked about the cost of the course today but when I told him he started equivocating (money complex?). He is aware of my work with the writer Horatio Peahen. Claims to have read everything HP ever wrote, including that essay published last year in The Nation in which HP claims I helped cure his writer’s block. Of course, HP doesn't mention me by name, but AL says he deduced my identity by reading the essay for clues “like a detective” (possible obsessive). Was initially inclined to recommend he see Braunschweig, Ringwald or Petroshenko until he mentioned an abnormality that piqued my interest: claims an inability to dream ("to remember your dreams," I corrected him, "everybody dreams"). Has made many efforts to teach himself over several years, all in vain – remembers at most one dream a year or so. Remembers one key dream from childhood, something about falling with his father down a bottomless well (mother fixation, possible misogyny). I replied that dream analysis is central to Bergian psychotherapy, that there can be no Bergian psychotherapy without dream analysis. AL suggested an alternative: says he writes a story almost daily for his own amusement. Little anecdotes, mostly unpublishable. Says he can only write late at night, and is convinced the stories are associated with neurological dreamwork. (I too have often wondered the same thing - and if I can publish a paper on the subject it would cement my position as the pre-eminent Bergian of my generation.) We agreed to an appointment for next week (mid-tier fee structure). Asked that he bring one or two recent stories with him. Have emphasised the need for discretion. Writers are incapable of keeping a secret, which is why so many of them are in therapy - but if my colleagues got wind of what I’m doing the consequences could be disastrous - especially that triumvirate of mediocrities Braunschweig, Ringwald and Petroshenko. (Sometimes I amuse myself by imagining the three of them burning up with jealousy ever since publication of the HP essay in The Nation last year!) Afterward I had my usual Wednesday dinner with SR at the Minotaur. He has almost completely lost his appetite due to his cancer - very sad, as the steaks there are so good.