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Sleep Apnea - The Reluctant Psychoanalyst Gets Treatment (Cont.)

I posted some time ago about having been tentatively diagnosed with sleep apnea.Since then I have: been to a dentist specializing in sleep appliances; seen a sleep physician; had a “sleep study” where I spent the night at a clinic with electrodes attached to my head; met with the sleep physician again; had another sleep study while using a CPAP machine; returned to the sleep dentist and had an appliance made; and dealt with the insurance industry.What a nightmare!Not so much the individual components (though the nights spent in the sleep clinic were among the worse night’s sleep I have ever had), but the amount of time that it has taken to have a treatment, the frustration of continuing to sleep poorly while knowing that a solution might be achievable, the out-of-pocket costs, and, ironically, the lack of dreams have all been part of the nightmare.
When I last posted, the diagnosis was still a hypothesis.I was referred to the dental sleep specialist.He evaluated me, had me fill out a…

I.H. Paul's Letters to Simon - The Reluctant Psychoanalyst Reads a Professional Classic

Recently there was a meeting at my institute between various faculty members and a group of young, enthusiastic psychiatric residents and psychology graduate students.The topic was: How should the students learn about psychoanalytic approaches to treating clients/patients?We thought about various things that had worked in the past: analysts presenting their cases or teaching classes about basic psychoanalytic concepts, but when someone suggested a book club, the energy in the room picked up.And then, as we discussed various books that we could read, it was clear that there was a special place in the hearts of the analysts for a book by I.H. Paul (1973): Letters to Simon.
Letters to Simon is modeled after C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters.Lewis was writing to Christians – warning them as it were – by presenting a series of letters from a wise and avuncular devil to a neophyte who was just learning the craft of temptation (I have posted about an imaginary meeting between Lewis and Freud he…

Henrietta Lacks, HeLa Cells and Experimentation - The Reluctant Psychoanalyst Reads Nonfiction

Henrietta Lacks was an African American woman born in 1920 in Maryland.She died in 1951 and likely would not be someone about whom we would ever know anything except that the cervical cancer cells that would eventually kill her were taken from her when she was a patient at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center.They were cultured and they not only lived outside her body, but they multiplied rapidly, proving hugely useful to the study of cells and pathology all over the world.Rebecca Skloot recreated Henrietta’s life in her recent book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
The book is the result of a collaborative relationship with Researchers, but mostly it is the result of a collaborative relationship with Henrietta’s four surviving children, her husband, and other members of her family. In significant part, it is the story of the relationship Rebecca Skloot developed with Deborah Lacks, and, perhaps more impressively, with Deborah’s brother Zakariyya in order to tell this story.Deb…

The Wired Hermit - The Reluctant Psychoanalyst entertains an Old Friend

Development is central to analytic theory and technique.Development is also one of those words that I just didn’t understand in graduate school, and I don’t think it was one that I was exposed to much before then.I remember teaching Introductory Psychology and explaining that kids thought differently than adults did, but I didn’t really believe it – or, I guess I believed it, but I didn’t get it.Through my own eyes, I had always been myself.Or maybe, I had always been myself, damn it.I remembered what I had seen and heard and the perspective that I had and I still had that perspective and I wasn’t going to be convinced otherwise.  Ironically, of course, this perspective has changed as I’ve aged.I now remember fondly the intensity of youth, but am no longer driven by the destabilizing energy that used to push me from pillar to post.I have also lost some of the certainty that I once had.Of course, I have traded it in on wisdom and a broader world view… OK, some things never change, or …

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - The Reluctant Psychoanalyst watches a classic

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, both in the form of Ken Kesey’s novel and Milos Formansfilm starring Jack Nicholson and featuring Danny DeVito and Christopher Lloyd in early roles, and Louise Fletcher in her Academy Award winning performance as Nurse Ratched, were powerful influences on me as an adolescent.R.P. McMurphy, Ken Kesey’s alter ego, based in part on Kesey's experience as a psychiatric orderly, is a petty criminal who, at least in the book, chooses an insanity defense in order to get what he believes will be lighter treatment at a psychiatric hospital than he would get in jail.Instead, he runs into Nurse Ratched, authority figure extraordinaire, in her starched uniform and her rules upon rules intended, in her mind, to help the patients improve, but, as is apparent to the most casual observer, serving to protect her world view and to keep the patients repressed.  Meanwhile McMurphy’s self-sacrificing rowdy mischievousness leads to actual therapeutic change as the pati…

Emma Donoghue's Room - The Reluctant Psychoanalyst Re-experiences Closeness and Loneliness

Room, the 2010 novel by Emma Donoghue is the story of a mother confined in a 12X12 shed for seven years. She creates a world of wonder for her now five-year-old son Jack out of the meager resources available to her.  This is a story in the tradition of the 1997 Italian film Life is Beautiful and Cormac McCarthy’s 2006 novel The Road.  All three of them are about a parent navigating a threatening and horrific world with his or her son – Life is Beautiful is set in the holocaust, The Road in a post- apocalyptic landscape and now Room, in the narrow confines of a shed, pits a mother against a jailer upon whom she is totally dependant.  Each narrative describes a grim and beautiful task, that of protecting a child against the obvious threats of an evil world.  In so doing, each of the parents preserves the human nature, the joie de vivre, and the integrity of their child from a soul-killing world.  I can’t help but wonder about this theme resurfacing in these three popular works in part b…

Lawrence Durrell's Justine - The Reluctant Psychoanalyst Reads a Classic

Justine is the first of four novels that make up the Alexandria quartet.I must confess that I have not read the other three and don’t know when or if I will.Justine stands on its own as an intensely disturbing meditation on love.Told in a free form style where events are related in the first person based on “the order in which they first became significant for me” rather than in linear fashion, it has a very dream like quality – it is hard to keep track of characters and events but, just as in a good dream, this doesn’t seem to matter.
     The title character is the object of intense desire – the narrator calls it love – of many people.Centrally she is loved by her second husband, Nessim.Her first husband’s novel about his love for her is quoted extensively throughout, and it is used to articulate the love of the narrator, who has an extensive affair with her and who is now also writing a novel about her, while maintaining powerfully attached relationships with his lover, Melis…