Saturday, May 22, 2010

Religion often informs what is an ideal self and superego (or conscience). It can be helpful to take religious ritual and writings with what a Jesuit student in a graduation speech, quoting Ignatius Loyola, called discernment. Informing the elements of the self may involve, especially in ritual, 'regression in the service of the ego,' what Freud said of art.

I bring this up in relation to a reflection on depression. Both Kraepelin and Freud, by including in the psychoanalytic tradition the case of the depressed woman who criticized herself as a criminal when actually it was her father who had died who was the actual criminal, have included anger as a potential central element in depression. Kraepelin's inclusion of anger is found in his diagnosis of manic depressive illness. Mania is frequently characterized by anger and irritability, a sense of being grievously slighted leading to depression. Shakespeare came close to this in writing, 'Life is a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing.' For my purposes here, those last few words correctly are 'signifying not enough healthy narcissism;' the 'nothing' is Shakespeare's valuation of the pathological narcissism and a put down of the 'sound and fury.' We need some way to see, hold onto, an ideal self and thus avoid excessive loss of self regard while effectively relating to others and avoid excessive anger and the cycle of destructiveness that implies. I'd like to read the original German paper in the pscyhoanalytic tradition and see if it admits of some other insight than our tradition that 'you need to let your anger out (you poor thing)' that we so often pander to our patients.

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