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Mental Zoo

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'Salman Akhtar and Vamik Volkan's dynamic book, Mental Zoo, takes the reader on a panoramic tour illuminating the rich world of animals in human experience. Here Freud's rats, wolves, and horses join our own cats and dogs to meet snakes, spiders, birds, and cockroaches. With an engaging blend of whimsy and erudition, the contributors describe the feelings, fantasies, dreams, nightmares, and delusions that animals evoke in us all. Detailed clinical examples capture the richness of the intrapsychic and interpersonal places that animals inhabit in our psyches. The book encompasses the role of animals not only in normal development and psychopathology, but also in history and mythology. Mental health professionals will listen to their patients with new sensitivities after Mental Zoo introduces them to this fascinating menagerie.'- Alex Hoffer, MD, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Training and Supervising Analyst, Psychoanalytic Institute of New England'This book, a psychoanalytic study of the role played by animals in the human mind, is a huge contribution to the understanding of a segment of mental life never before studied in such depth and focus. The results are spectacular. The subject matter, besides being immensely informative, is riveting. From the very dedication, in which the two editors remember their respective family's menagerie, including, a cat, dog, horse, cow, donkey, python, and pet tiger, it is apparent how much each author approaches his subject with reverence, awe, and love. This book, besides deepening the psychoanalytic situation, extends applied analysis to another level, from the inanimate to man's next of kin.The spectrum of animals studied, from rats to horses, dogs, cats and wolves, to birds, snakes, spiders and insects, is dazzling, provocative, and always thought-provoking. It is psychoanalytic, with each animal viewed from philia to phobia, from unconscious to conscious effects, thorough at every level. Each contribution resounds with its relevance to clinical work and to everyday observations. The scholarship is historical, prehistorical, even paleontological, and ranges over myths, religious worship, rituals, language, folklore, symbols, art, and always clinical data, from Freud's to our own with a special bounty to dreams and nightmares. Several of the chapters will be classics. The book as a whole is more than a compendium; it is an encyclopedia.'- Leo Rangell, MD, (1913-2011) psychoanalyst and clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California

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Chapter 1 - Animals in Psychiatric Symptomatology

ePub

SALMAN AKHTAR, M.D., AND JODI BROWN, M.D.

While the celebrated case histories of the Rat Man, Little Hans, and the Wolf Man (Freud, 1909a, b, 1918) have immortalized the role of animals in human psychopathology, the fact is that animals have long roamed the terrain of diagnostic categories in clinical psychiatry. In the disrupted mind, the zookeeper leaves the cage doors ajar and lets the animals assume power over man by invading his thoughts and his body. Appearing as psychic hints and guesses, the animals wink at him mischievously in dreams; becoming cuddly maternal substitutes, they relieve loneliness and isolation. Turning cold blooded and vicious, animals terrify him or her by means of vague or explicit persecutory dreads and become receptacles of erotic emissions, soothing bodily tensions. Crawling under the skin and infecting the guts, they torture the individual from within. If the resulting chaos is intense, human identity becomes so fragmented that a person comes to believe or act as if he or she is transforming into an animal.

 

CHAPTER 1 Animals in Psychiatric Symptomatology

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CHAPTER 1

Animals in Psychiatric Symptomatology

SALMAN AKHTAR, M.D., AND JODI BROWN, M.D.

While the celebrated case histories of the Rat Man, Little Hans, and the WolfMan (Freud, 1909a,b, 1918) have immortalized the role of animals in human psychopathology, the fact is that animals have long roamed the terrain of diagnostic categories in clinical psychiatry. In the disrupted mind, the zookeeper leaves the cage doors ajar and lets the animals assume power over man by invading his thoughts and his body. Appearing as psychic hints and guesses, the animals wink at him mischievously in dreams; becoming cuddly maternal substitutes, they relieve loneliness and isolation. Turning cold blooded and vicious, animals terrify him or her by means of vague or explicit persecutory dreads and become receptacles of erotic emissions, soothing bodily tensions. Crawling under the skin and infecting the guts, they torture the individual from within. If the resulting chaos is intense, human identity becomes so fragmented that a person comes to believe or act as if he or she is transforming into an animal.

 

Chapter 2 - Rat People

ePub

LEONARD L. SHENGOLD, M.D.

The compulsion to repeat dominates the lives of people who have been seduced or beaten by psychotic and psychopathic parents. In my book Soul Murder (1989), I have stressed the importance for these people of fixation on the cannibalistic level of libido development and regression to it, with concomitant maldevelopment and regression of the ego and superego. Overstimulation continues to be a central problem in the lives of these people, and therefore also in their analytic transferences.

The clinical conditions I have been describing as the effects of soul murder sometimes appear in combination with a preoccupation with rats. Obviously not all soul murder victims are rat people, and whether all people who are preoccupied with toothed creatures and rodents have suffered actual overstimulating experiences as children must also be subject to doubt. But such a preoccupation, evidenced by the frequent appearance of rats in analytic associations, should alert the observer to the possibility of soul murder. All the rat people I have described in my book were victims of soul murder, and my generalizations about them are applicable to other victims.

 

CHAPTER 2 Rat People

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CHAPTER 2

Rat People

LEONARD L. SHENGOLD, M.D.

The compulsion to repeat dominates the lives of people who have been seduced or beaten by psychotic and psychopathic parents.

In my book Soul Murder (1989), I have stressed the importance for these people of fixation on the cannibalistic level of libido development and regression to it, with concomitant maldevelopment and regression of the ego and superego. Overstimulation continues to be a central problem in the lives of these people, and therefore also in their analytic transferences.

The clinical conditions I have been describing as the effects of soul murder sometimes appear in combination with a preoccupation with rats. Obviously not all soul murder victims are rat people, and whether all people who are preoccupied with toothed creatures and rodents have suffered actual overstimulating experiences as children must also be subject to doubt. But such a preoccupation, evidenced by the frequent appearance of rats in analytic associations, should alert the observer to the possibility of soul murder. All the rat people I have described in my book were victims of soul murder, and my generalizations about them are applicable to other victims.

 

CHAPTER 3 Horses and Horsewomen

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CHAPTER 3

Horses and Horsewomen

JOHN E. SCHOWALTER, M.D.

Man has always been fascinated by the creatures around him. In the animistic and pantheistic religions all life is seen as a unity, although in the Hebraic creation only man is made in God's image. The domestication of animals for social reasons is very ancient, and there is archaeological evidence of pre-Neolithic,

Mesolithic peoples living with dogs (Zeuner, 1963). At present, more than 50 percent of families in the United States have pets.

There is an early psychoanalytic literature on the uses and intrapsychic meanings of animals, but then interest waned until recently when there has been an upsurge of medical, psychiatric, and psychoanalytic research on the impact of animals on humans.

In the psychoanalytic literature the two earliest descriptions of the treatment of children, Little Hans (Freud, 1909) and Little

Chanticleer (Ferenczi, 1913), both involve youngsters who used animals (horses and fowl) as objects to which they had displaced their sexual interests leading to subsequent phobic fears. In academic psychology, Watson and Raynor (1920) used Little Albert to show how conditioning could cause animal fears. In 1913

 

Chapter 3 - Horses and Horsewomen

ePub

JOHN E. SCHOWALTER, M.D.

Man has always been fascinated by the creatures around him. In the animistic and pantheistic religions all life is seen as a unity, although in the Hebraic creation only man is made in God's image. The domestication of animals for social reasons is very ancient, and there is archaeological evidence of pre-Neolithic, Mesolithic peoples living with dogs (Zeuner, 1963). At present, more than 50 percent of families in the United States have pets.

There is an early psychoanalytic literature on the uses and intrapsychic meanings of animals, but then interest waned until recently when there has been an upsurge of medical, psychiatric, and psychoanalytic research on the impact of animals on humans.

In the psychoanalytic literature the two earliest descriptions of the treatment of children, Little Hans (Freud, 1909) and Little Chanticleer (Ferenczi, 1913), both involve youngsters who used animals (horses and fowl) as objects to which they had displaced their sexual interests leading to subsequent phobic fears. In academic psychology, Watson and Raynor (1920) used Little Albert to show how conditioning could cause animal fears. In 1913 Freud commented on the closeness children feel with animals when he stated, “Children have no scruples over allowing animals to rank as their full equals. Uninhibited as they are in the avowal of their bodily needs, they no doubt feel themselves more akin to animals than to their elders, who may well be a puzzle to them” (p. 127). Anna Freud (1936) has noted that “substitution of an animal for a human object is not in itself a neurotic process” (p. 74), but she also comments on and gives examples of how commonly animals are used by children for neurotic symptom formation.

 

Chapter 4 - The Wolf in the Consulting Room

ePub

DWARAKANATH G. RAO, M.D.

Then everything includes itself in power,

Power into will, will into appetite;

And appetite, a universal wolf,

So doubly seconded with will and power,

Must make perforce a universal prey,

And last eat up himself [Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida, Act I, scene 3, line 119].

The image of the wolf conjures up vaguely disturbing feelings, held in check only by a multitude of cultural charms and amulets, and uneasy individual defenses. The wolf is associated with unbridled cruelty, ferocity, ravenousness, treachery, speed, and lust but is also an animal held in high mystical esteem as self-sufficient and loyal to the pack. It is a revered animal of psychoanalysts, who from the time of Freud's description of his famous Russian patient, dubbed the Wolf Man, have elaborated on Freud's masterly exposition of a dream of wolves. Thus for the psychoanalyst, the wolf is a strangely instructive creature, a bedfellow from our training years, who stared at us impassively as we learned about primal scene, reconstruction, trauma, dream work, and indeed an entire model of the mind from topographic to structural to postmodern. These days we are newly reminded of the multiply determined vagaries of memory, and the need for wiser guidelines in understanding the truths conveyed in the languages of the couch: enactments, memories, body language, dreams, affects, and spoken language itself.

 

CHAPTER 4 The Wolf in the Consulting Room

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CHAPTER 4

The Wolf in the Consultin Room

DWARAKANATH G. RAO, M.D.

Then everything includes itself in power,

Power into will, will into appetite;

And appetite, a universal wolf,

So doubly seconded with will and power,

Must make perforce a universal prey,

And last eat up himself [Shakespeare, Troilus and

Cressida, Act I, scene 3, line 119].

The image of the wolf conjures up vaguely disturbing feelings, held in check only by a multitude of cultural charms and amulets, and uneasy individual defenses. The wolf is associated with unbridled cruelty, ferocity, ravenousness, treachery, speed, and lust but is also an animal held in high mystical esteem as self-sufficient and loyal to the pack. It is a revered animal of psychoanalysts, who from the time of Freud's description of his famous Russian patient, dubbed the Wolf Man, have elaborated on Freud's masterly exposition of a dream of wolves. Thus for the psychoanalyst, the wolf is a strangely instructive creature, a bedfellow from our training years, who stared at us impassively as we learned about primal scene, reconstruction, trauma, dream work, and indeed an entire model of the mind from topographic to structural to postmodern. These days we are newly reminded of the multiply determined vagaries of memory, and the need for wiser guidelines in understanding the truths conveyed in the languages of the couch: enactments, memories, body language, dreams, affects, and spoken language itself.

 

Chapter 5 - Man's Best Friend

ePub

PHILIP J. ESCOLL, M.D.

Affectionate without ambivalence, the simplicity of a life free from the almost unbearable conflicts of civilization, the beauty of existence complete in itself and yet, despite all divergences in organic development [there is] that feeling of intimate affinity of an undisputed solidarity…a bond of friendship unites us both…” [Freud, about his beloved chow, Jo-Fi, 1936].

Dogs have played a part in the life of humans for about 12,000 years. Dogs, “man's best friend,” as the old saying goes, have become a significant part of human experience and culture. In ancient Egypt, for example, they were used as icons, totems, and even gods (Halpert, 1980). Dogs have also assumed a role since ancient days as pets as well as workers. In recent times they have served in settings such as psychiatric hospitals and nursing homes as therapy dogs. Dogs have served as guides and helpmates to the blind and, more recently, to the hearing impaired. They have participated in the military as “canine corps,” and they have worked with law enforcement to trick criminals and also to sniff for drugs. They are used as sled dogs, to herd sheep, work with hunters, and as watch dogs. They are also widely used as subjects for research (Pavlov, 1927). They have customarily been used to find survivors in disasters, such as the Oklahoma City bombing. Dogs have also been used to intimidate or attack: in Nazi Germany, dogs were used to herd victims in the concentration camps.

 

CHAPTER 5 Man's Best Friend

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CHAPTER 5

Man's Best Friend

PHILIP J. ESCOLL, M.D.

Affectionate without ambivalence, the simplicity of a life free from the almost unbearable conflicts of civilization, the beauty of existence complete in itself and yet, despite all divergences in organic development [there is] that feeling of intimate affinity of an undisputed solidarity ... a bond of friendship unites us both ... "

[Freud, about his beloved chow,Jo-Fi, 1936].

Dogs have played a part in the life of humans for about 12,000 years. Dogs, "man's best friend," as the old saying goes, have become a significant part of human experience and culture. In ancient Egypt, for example, they were used as icons, totems, and even gods (Halpert, 1980). Dogs have also assumed a role since ancient days as pets as well as workers. In recent times they have served in settings such as psychiatric hospitals and nursing homes as therapy dogs. Dogs have served as guides and helpmates to the blind and, more recently, to the hearing impaired. They have participated in the military as "canine corps," and they have worked with law enforcement to trick criminals and also to sniff for drugs. They are used as sled dogs, to herd sheep, work with hunters, and as watch dogs. They are also widely used as subjects

 

Chapter 6 - A Journey with Homo Aves through the Human Aviary

ePub

GREGG E. GORTON, M.D.

                   In memoriam,

Theodore A Parker, 3rd (April 1, 1953–August 3, 1993),
           ornithologist extraordinaire:

“He knew birds better than any living person.” [John O'Neill, quoted in Sullivan, 1993].

Let us now suppose that in the mind of each man there is an aviary of all sorts of birds—some flocking together apart from the rest, others in small groups, others solitary, flying anywhere and everywhere…. We may suppose that the birds are kinds of knowledge, and that when we were children, this receptacle was empty…[Plato, Theaetetus, The Dialogues, quoted in Beck, 1968].

As we contemplate that sanderling [Calidris alba], there by the shining sea, one question leads inevitably to another, and all questions come full circle to the questioner, paused momentarily in his own journey under the sun and sky [Matthiessen, 1973].

I

Human proclivities toward our avian fellow-travelers are not unlike those we harbor toward other members of the animal kingdom: either we befriend, love, and care for them; fear, hate, and extirpate them; clothe or decorate ourselves with their vestiges; introduce them as characters in our fantasies, myths, stories, heavenly bodies, dreams, poems, music, artworks, and movies—not to say, to discover them lurking in our nightmares, phobias, delusions, and perverse imaginings.

 

CHAPTER 6 A Journey with Homo Aves Through the Human Aviary

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CHAPTER 6

A Journey with Homo Aves Through the

Human Aviary

GREGG E. GORTON, M.D.

In memoriam,

Theodore A Parker, 3rd (April I, 1953-August

3, 1993), ornithologist extraordinaire:

"He knew birds better than any living person."

Uohn O'Neill, quoted in Sullivan, 1993].

Let us now suppose that in the mind of each man there is an aviary of all sorts of birds-some flocking together apart from the rest, others. in small groups, others solitary, flying anywhere and everywhere .... We may suppose that the birds are kinds of knowledge, and that when we were children, this receptacle was empty ...

[Plato, Theaetetus, The Dialogues, quoted in

Beck, 1968].

As we contemplate that sanderling [ Calidris alba], there by the shining sea, one question leads inevitably to another, and all questions come full circle to the questioner, paused momentarily in his own journey under the sun and sky [Matthiessen, 1973].

Acknowledgments. I wish to thank Matt van de Rijn, Penny Nelson, Mildred Cho,

 

Chapter 7 - Snakes and Us

ePub

D. WILFRED ABSE, M.D.

Throughout history, the relationship of man and snake has been complex and paradoxical. On the one hand, the snake has been emblematic of wisdom and empowerment, procreation and longevity, even the hope of rebirth and immortality. On the other hand, it has represented death and disease, sin, lecherous temptation, and cunning duplicity. Thus the golden, snake-intertwined heraldic staff of Hermes or Mercury constitutes the caduceus, signifying healing power and medical art in ancient Greek and Roman mythology, whereas Medusa, the mortal daughter of the Gorgons, in venerable legend dallied with Poseidon in Athena's temple whereupon the outraged goddess changed the offender's hair into serpents framing a viperous malevolent face so awful to behold that any viewer would turn to stone. As far back as the Old Stone Age, man was already fascinated with the shape of the snake. Thus at the Dome of Serpents at Rouffignac in central France, deep under the earth on the curved clay ceiling of a massive cave, hundreds of intertwining, serpentine markings are displayed. Moreover, Paleolithic man sometimes engraved his tools and weapons with images of snakes.1

 

CHAPTER 7 Snakes and Us

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CHAPTER 7

Snakes and Us

D. WILFRED ABSE, M.D.

Throughout history, the relationship of man and snake has been complex and paradoxical. On the one hand, the snake has been emblematic of wisdom and empowerment, procreation and longevity, even the hope of rebirth and immortality. On the other hand, it has represented death and disease, sin, lecherous temptation, and cunning duplicity. Thus the golden, snake-intertwined heraldic staff of Hermes or Mercury constitutes the caduceus, signifying healing power and medical art in ancient Greek and

Roman mythology, whereas Medusa, the mortal daughter of the

Gorgons, in venerable legend dallied with Poseidon in Athena's temple whereupon the outraged goddess changed the offender's hair into serpents framing a viperous malevolent face so awful to behold that any viewer would tum to stone. As far back as the

Old Stone Age, man was already fascinated with the shape of the snake. Thus at the Dome of Serpents at Rouffignac in central

 

Chapter 8 - Spider Phobias and Spider Fantasies

ePub

MELITTA SPERLING, M.D.

Although spider phobias and spider fantasies are by no means a clinical rarity, only a few psychoanalysts have reported on them (Abraham, 1922; Gloyne, 1950; Sterba, 1950; Azima and Wittkower, 1957; Little, 1966a, 1967; Newman and Stoller, 1969). To those who, like myself, have encountered these phenomena in work with patients, these contributions have been of great interest. There are no references in the literature to psychoanalytic observations of such phenomena in children, nor reports of follow-ups on patients in whom such phenomena have been observed during treatment.

I had an opportunity to study analytically spider phobias and fantasies in three children, two adolescents, and three adult patients. In one case I could observe a spider phobia in its early stages in a prelatency child and follow up the vicissitudes of this phobia during latency and adolescence. In one adolescent patient, the spider phobia and fantasies which had been of long standing, came to light only at the beginning of the third year of analysis and reappeared toward the end of the fourth year when they became a central point in her analysis. Two adult patients resorted to spider symbolism in critical emotional situations. In both, these remained single occurrences. In one patient it appeared as a nightmare and in the other patient as a kind of delusional experience. These and similar observations convinced me that the presence of spider phobias and fantasies may be of specific diagnostic and prognostic value. I therefore wish to take up this and other aspects of these phenomena which have not received sufficient consideration thus far. I should like to present case material upon which my thoughts and suggestions are based and shall begin with my youngest patient, 4-year-old Ruth.

 

CHAPTER 8 Spider Phobias and Spider Fantasies

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CHAPTER 8

Spider Phobias and Spider Fantasies

MELITTA SPERLING, M.D.

Although spider phobias and spider fantasies are by no means a clinical rarity, only a few psychoanalysts have reported on them

(Abraham, 1922; Gloyne, 1950; Sterba, 1950; Azima and Wittkower, 1957; Little, 1966a, 1967; Newman and Stoller, 1969). To those who, like myself, have encountered these phenomena in work with patients, these contributions have been of great interest. There are no references in the literature to psychoanalytic observations of such phenomena in children, nor reports of follow-ups on patients in whom such phenomena have been observed during treatment.

I had an opportunity to study analytically spider phobias and fantasies in three children, two adolescents, and three adult patients. In one case I could observe a spider phobia in its early stages in a prelatency child and follow up the vicissitudes of this phobia during latency and adolescence. In one adolescent patient, the spider phobia and fantasies which had been of long standing, came to light only at the beginning of the third year of analysis and reappeared toward the end of the fourth year when they became a central point in her analysis. Two adult patients resorted to spider symbolism in critical emotional situations. In both, these remained single occurrences. In one patient it appeared as a nightmare and in the other patient as a kind of delusional experience. These and similar observations convinced me that the presence of spider phobias and fantasies may be of specific diagnostic and prognostic value. I therefore wish to take up

237

 

Chapter 9 - The Cat People Revisited

ePub

VAMIK D. VOLKAN, M.D.

In my mind's eye, I am sitting next to my mother in a moving truck, holding our cat, Rengin, whose name in Turkish means something like “colorful.” When I think of Rengin, I visualize not an animal, but a kaleidoscope of colors. Suddenly, I lose control of the cat: he jumps out of an open window and disappears into the fields like a fading rainbow. I am filled with sadness.

It is not surprising that this episode is one of my earliest memories. I was 4 years old when my family made this move from one town in Cyprus to another. Moving from a familiar place where I was my mother's “darling,” to a new town, where a typhoid epidemic struck one of my sisters, probably induced various anxieties—including worries about losing my mother or her love (since she had to spend more time with my ill sister) and about separation–individuation struggles. When pets are in our childhood environment, they can easily function as displacement figures and symbols involved in our internal dramas. Rengin's different colors might, for example, represent different childhood affects pertaining to the “loss” of my mother.

 

CHAPTER 9 The Cat People Revisited

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CHAPTER 9

The Cat People Revisited

VAMIKD. VOLKAN, M.D.

In my mind's eye, I am sitting next to my mother in a moving truck, holding our cat, Rengin, whose name in Turkish means something like ''colorful.'' When I think of Rengin, I visualize not an animal, but a kaleidoscope of colors. Suddenly, I lose control of the cat: he jumps out of an open window and disappears into the fields like a fading rainbow. I am filled with sadness.

It is not surprising that this episode is one of my earliest memories. I was 4 years old when my family made this move from one town in Cyprus to another. Moving from a familiar place where I was my mother's "darling," to a new town, where a typhoid epidemic struck one of my sisters, probably induced various anxieties-including worries about losing my mother or her love

(since she had to spend more time with my ill sister) and about separation-individuation struggles. When pets are in our childhood environment, they can easily function as displacement figures and symbols involved in our internal dramas. Rengin's different colors might, for example, represent different childhood affects pertaining to the "loss" of my mother.

 

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