A major addition to the psychoanalytic casebook literature,Errant Selves: A Casebook of Misbehavior is a collection of case studies dedicated to the psychoanalytic understanding and treatment of behavior disorders. Guided by the self-psychological framework developed by Arnold Goldberg in Being of Two Minds (TAP, 1999), the contributors to this volume explore cases of perversion, delinquency, and addiction in which the misbehavior at issue served primarily to ward off painful affects or states of dysphoria in order to achieve a basic integrity of the self. For these patients, the pathway to self-cohesion entailed the florid acting out typical of narcissistic behavior disorders.
But these patients not only derived feelings of strength and even pleasure from their conduct; they were simultaneously repulsed by their own perverse and aberrant behavior. Indeed, as the contributors show, the patients' own moral revulsion for their misbehaviors routinely became the launching pad for analytic understanding and subsequent control or eradication. Following Goldberg's theoretical framework, this troubling state of affairs is understood in terms of "vertical splits" and the psychology of disavowal. For patients with "errant selves," that is, the psychodynamics of disavowal have shaped development to the point that they end up living parallel lives with different values, ambitions, and goals.
Clinical readers of all persuasions will be intrigued by treatment narratives that chronicle the special challenges of working with patients who, in Goldberg's words, "were neither unitary selves nor persons with an easy ability to bolster or reconstitute themselves in socially acceptable ways." Of special interest is the contributors' sensitivity to what they missed with these troubled and troubling patients; they recount examples of skewed focus, of strained rationalization, even of glaring clinical omission, all of which suggest that the patients' psychic splits activated parallel splits on the part of their therapists.
What emerges from the contributors' efforts, then, is very much a casebook of our time. It extends the purview of psychoanalysis to the developmental history and psychodynamics of disavowal; explores the analytic management of delinquent, perverse, and addicted patients; and examines the analyst's subjective presence in these treatments, including his or her potential for self- deception and collusion. And it does so in the context of probing a theoretical issue of continuing practical import: whether or not psychoanalytic therapy is best served by viewing the patient as a unitary individual with a coherent sense of agency and an integrated set of values and goals.
Table of Contents
1. The Case of John Alter: To Catch a Thief (or Two)
2. The Case of Kool: The Psychoanalysis of a Transvestite
3. The Case of Bert: A Case of Infidelity
4. The Case of Jane: A Young Woman in Passionate Pursuit
5. The Case of Peter Stone: A Case of Compulsive Masturbation
6. The Case of Alice: Perverse Indiscretions of an Inhibited Young Woman
7. The Case of Rashid: Purloined Letters - The Case of a Man Who Stole Books
8. The Case of Alexander: Variations on the Vertical Split - Psychotherapy of a Delinquent