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CASE STUDY OF AN OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE PERSONALITY
Reflections on Patient and Profession
Ed Mendelowitz, Ph.D.

 

His disciples questioned him and said to him, "Do you want us to fast? How shall we pray? Shall we give alms? What diet shall we observe? Jesus said, "Do not tell lies and do not do what you hate."
The Gospel of Thomas

Live is essentially a drama, because it is a desperate struggle"hwith things and even with our character"hto succeed in being in fact that which we are in design.
Jose Ortega y Gasset,
In Search of Goethe from Within

 

There is a Hasidic tale told by Rabbi Hanokh and retold by Martin Buber (1948) of a stupid man, one who could not live without lists and rules. Indeed, so difficult was it for this man to think for himself that he almost hesitated to go to sleep at night for fear of the difficulty he would have in finding his clothes upon waking. One evening it occurred to the man to make yet another list and so"hpencil and paper in hand"hhe duly noted where he lay each article of clothing as he undressed. The next morning, the man was very well pleased to consult this list and find hat, pants, shirt, and so on exactly where he had placed them the night before. "That's all very well," thought the man when he was fully dressed, "but now where am I myself? Where in the world am I?" "He looked and looked, but it was a vain search; he could not find himself. "And that is how it is with us,' said the rabbi."

            I relate this little story as a prelude to the present case study because it occurs to me that we psychologists are also often stupid, preoccupied with lists and charts, theories and techniques, and do not know ourselves any better than the foolish man in the rebbe's tale. Ours is a guild of obsessive-compulsives busily jumping our way through countless academic hoops, overcoming innumerable obstacles on our way toward professional respectability and accomplishment such that we scarcely fare any better than our poor Hasid when throw back on ourselves and left to our own devices. Otto Rank (1936) referred to this process as one of "partialization," the all-too-human attempt to encounter the world in manageable doses. The result is a necessarily reduced and leveled down image of existence and human being.

Rollo May (1967) makes this same point in Psychology and the Human Dilemma where he unwittingly echoes the Hasidic tale with one of his own, this time of the overconfident and ever-industrious psychologist (here we do no laugh so freely!) who is denied eternity because of the crime of nimis simplicandum . In short, our accomplished colleague is chastised for a lifetime of oversimplification and an attendant career of professional reduction. "You have spent your life making molehills out of mountains," he is told by an incredulous Saint Peter (p. 4). "We sent you to earth for seventy-two years to a Dantean circus, and you spent your days and nights at sideshows! Nimis simplicando!" (ibid.). The psychologist protests and cravenly submits his many publications and countless awards for consideration, but to no avail. "Please! Not your well-practiced chatter," Saint Peter retorts; "Something new is required . . . something new" (p. 6)

Thus humbled, let us proceed to the story at hand . . .

I first me Ron in the early summer of 1990. He was twenty-four years of age a that time and had received my name from a social worker following his fiancee's unexpected disclosure that she had had an abortion at the age of sixteen. A good obsessive-compulsive, Ron had a strong, indeed rigid, moral code and reacted to this revelation with anger, anxiety, vindictiveness, feelings of jealousy, indeed once even hitting his fiancee. The day after the news he was talking to his EAP counselor and from there quickly found his way to my office.

            Now, I do not strike a particularly formal or formidable pose for a psychologist and believe that the therapist works ideally through his or her own person rather than through some acquired and often disingenuous pose of professionalism or false show of confidence. (It was Alfred Adler, I believe, who taught that the therapist's most important asset was her or is own self: a simple matter, perhaps, but one which many psychotherapists seem nonetheless not to get.) I can still remember quite clearly Ron's initial presentation: meticulously dressed in business suit with attaché case in hand. Ron himself seemed to pick up intuitively on the incongruity of the situation by elaborating on how organized he was, even momentarily opening his perfectly arranged attaché case in order to prove his point. I immediately liked this young man. He had a sense of humor about himself and was not so far gone as to be unable to poke fun at himself. For the obsessive-compulsive character, this is saying something indeed.

            During this and subsequent hours, I tried mostly to listen to Ron, asking questions not compulsively from some textbook evaluative procedure but rather in order to let an incipient rapport gradually evolve and allow the client's story to further unfold. In so doing, I learned the following: Ron had been born in rural New England and had moved to an industrialized southern New Hampshire with his family at the end of his first year of school. He had been diagnosed as dyslexic in childhood and had spent his boyhood summers at a special camp for children with learning disabilities. There were other childhood maladies as well (problems with his legs requiring a brace, a lazy eye, etc.), bringing to mind Adler's (in Ansbacher & Ansbacher, 1956) ideas about "organ inferiority" and "power striving." Certainly, the client was well aware of his bitter disappointment at not having been able to play varsity sports as an adolescent and even now engaged in any number of compensatory activities in the athletic arenas.

            Ron described his father as "very successful" though difficult to talk to. His mother, he said, was easier to communicate with but had not earned Ron's respect insofar as her world was, as he put it, simply "too small." Ron's mother had been married once previously as a teenager and had two older children from that brief relationship. The client, then, had a half-sister, twenty-nine years of age, whom he described as a recovering alcoholic stuck in a dependent marriage to a similarly recovering spouse. He had also a half-brother, twenty-seven years of age, working on a doctorate somewhere in the Midwest.

            Although Ron was not close to his sibling, it was clear that he struggled with turbulent and ambivalent feelings regarding his parents. Thus, his father was a self-made man who was both authoritarian and benefactor. He had not only assisted in Ron's schoolwork but had"hmore than this"hactually done much of it for his son! While Ron had, no doubt, "magic helper" (Fromm, 1941) at his disposal and possessed consequently a sense of "specialness" (Yalom, 1981), he never really got the feeling of accomplishing anything of significance in his own right. Consciously, Ron both admired his father and emulated his high standards. Subconsciously, he harbored enormous resentment. His father had become quite successful as an independent salesperson of paper processing machinery. Ron himself at the time was selling, as we might well have anticipated, stationery products.

            Feelings about the Ron's mother were similarly unsettled. He could, as we have noted, relate to her more comfortably, for she was warmer and more accessible. He felt, however, that her life was too severely limited, that she was too dependent on her husband. (Ron's mother had herself become pregnant during her teenage years, a situation forcing a marriage from which Ron's father"halways the hero"hhad eventually "rescued" her.) The client could easily see women as "weak," and, indeed, his fiancée often frustrated him insofar as he felt that she was lacking "a life of her own."

            These, then, are some of the facts of Ron's circumstances to the point in time when he began working with me. Superficially, it was clear that Ron bore the earmarks of the obsessive-compulsive personality: perfectionism; restlessness; preoccupation with details, rules, and public performance; excessive devotion to work and productivity; inflexibility concerning matters of morality and ethics, restricted capacity for the expression of affection, etc. Ordinarily, it seems, the client's diagnosis and history are meant to provide some sort of key to treatment methodology and objectives. The therapist it only too anxious to objectify the data into a neatly defined evaluation and corresponding treatment play. All of this has its relevance, but first let us pause.

            I often think about Rollo May's (1981) conception of freedom as the pause between stimulus and response. It is a profound observation, really. If we rush in impulsively in order to act without adequate pause, then it seems to me that we are simply instruments in that great chain of cause and effect and are ourselves hardly free to actualize the client's flagging potential in any meaningful way. Is it not appropriate, moreover, to define compulsivity quite simply as the failure to pause between stimulus and response? I t is important to underscore this point, for we have already noted a professional (to say nothing at all about societal) bias toward compulsivity, and it is clear that nothing of consequence will be accomplished when both therapist and client are similarly misguided. Sages from the East (with their penchant for paradox) have long understood this in a way most Westerners do not:

If it could be talked about, everybody would have told his brother.
Chuang-tzu

Not knowing that one knows is best.
Lao-tzu,
Tao te Ching

The Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz (1951/1981) explains:

The man of the East cannot take Americans seriously because they have never undergone experiences that teach men how relative their judgments and thinking habits are. Their resultant lack of imagination is appalling. (p. 29)

It is all too easily for left-brained and articulate professionals to theorize and discuss endlessly (often wielding arcane and sophisticated mental apparatuses in so doing) without, nonetheless, truly or deeply understanding. May, we recall, had already chided us concerning the hazards of "well-practiced chatter." "A dog is not recognized as good because it barks well," says Chuang-tzu, "and a man is not reckoned wise because he speaks skillfully." Let us slow down, then, and give these matters more appropriate thought.

            The Czech novelist Milan Kundera (1986/1988) suggests that the means toward approaching the enigmatic self lies in grasping "the essence of {that self's} existential problem": to grasp one's "existential code" (p. 29). Increasingly, I find that this is what I am attempting to get at in my clinical work. It is not simply a matter of affixing this or that diagnosis but rather an approach to understanding, encounter. I say "approach" because I mean to emphasize that the self can never be apprehended with certainty. We may become aware of our themes and those of our client's, but the themes are never static or fixed, never resolved in any absolute way.

            What, then, can we say about Ron's existential code? First, Ron struggles significantly with tension between freedom and destiny. He is ambitious, a go-getter, a young man of action. Superficially, one might say, he is his own person. This, however, is hardly the case. He still lives with his parents and, even if he did not, his freedom would nonetheless be severely curtailed. He idealizes a father who, albeit well intended and generous, has undermined self-esteem. He has done this by remaining a kind of "ultimate rescuer" (Yale, 1981), such that Ron has never genuinely learned to trust in himself. Ron is discontentedly employed in father's own field and yet adamantly believes that this path, if persevered and navigated successfully, will bring eventual fulfillment. It will not. If one travels the wrong path, one does not find fulfillment. External reward and validation, perhaps; but fulfillment, no.

Are you"hthe real you"ha mere corruption? . . Why do you not examine your own self, and see that you have arisen?  
Treatise on Resurrection,
In The Gnostic Gospels
(Pagels, 1979, p. 12)

The Baal-Shem said: "Every man should behave according to his "rung.' If he does not, if he seizes the "rung' of a fellow man and abandons his own, he will actualize neither the one nor the other.
Martin Buber,
The Way of Man
(in Kaufmann, 1961, p. 430)

"I work hard at living, at getting to the next step," states Ron in his initial hour. There is a question, however, concerning the path on which those steps are taken.

            Without knowing it more fully, Ron is very angry at this state of affairs. There is consequently a significant history of acting out of aggression: episodic bouts of drinking, periodic frays with authority and the law, even, shortly after the onset of therapy, a vandalized automatic teller machine which failed to operate. One might say that such behavior is a bad sign for an obsessive-compulsive personality. I, however, consider it a good omen for it indicates a man who is in touch"hindeed, violently so"hwith his daimon. The task will be to harness the daimonic forces in willing one's own life.

            This tension between freedom and destiny is played out, also, in the Ron's relationship with his fiancée and in his attitude toward women in general. His fiancée is herself the daughter of alcoholic parents and, in general, very much a product of anxious family enmeshment. The client is frustrated concerning the limitations of a relationship based, in the end, on reciprocal insecurities, mutual fear of becoming , and yet lacks the courage to move beyond it in the pursuit of more satisfying connection. Women whom Ron sees as being on his own level are devalued as weak and dependent; they are resented and yet desperately needed to divert attention from his own failure of nerve. Stronger, more confident women, their worlds not so finite or anxiously circumscribed, are seen as highly desirable, yet off limits. Ron does not feel deserving of them and rather prefers to deny their existence. They give the lie to Ron's mock show of autonomy. Anxiety, as Kierkegaard (1944, p. 55) had said, is "the dizziness of freedom." Indeed, the tension is played out in other aspects of the client's interpersonal life, such that"halthough he is rarely aware of it"hextant relationships fail to assuage a chronic existential loneliness. He is fever afraid of moving further out into life where he might find circumstances more rewarding.

            Finally, yet related to these themes, is Ron's spiritual void, a thoroughly modern dilemma. From the earliest sessions, the client speaks to "need to find meaning in life," a desire that "life ought to matter." Although brought up in a Protestant home, Ron considers converting to Catholicism in an effort to ease his religious discontent. Certainly, we may view this along the lines of the perennial human struggle between meaning and nothingness, but this, too, correlates to our basic polarity between freedom and destiny. To the extent that one avoids personal responsibility for one's own life, one forfeits a sense of fulfillment at living authentically:

From becoming an individual no one is excluded, except he who excludes himself by becoming a crowd.
Soren Kierkegaard (1939, p. 121)
The Point of View

What does your conscience say? "g "You shall become who you are."
Friedrich Nietzsche (1974, p. 219)
The Gay Science

Irrespective of external rewards that may accrue, the client is unable, in his avoidance of himself, to experience a genuine sense of peace with self or world.

            These, then, are some of the more pertinent themes which I take to comprise Ron's existential code. Certainly, these themes define to greater or lesser extent all human beings insofar as they are ontological themes and, more particularly, the compulsive personality in which life has become constricted, cerebral, and leveled down. We are not, however, primarily concerned with apprehending Ron as a member of this or that diagnostic category but rather as a unique individual. This, to my way of thinking, is the distinguishing feature of the existential emphasis in psychotherapy. Theories, techniques, diagnostic formulae are all important aspects of our work yet always ancillary to the living human being with whom we are present.   We seek first "to understand, to uncover, to disclose human existence" (May 1958, p. 24). If these conceptions appear only obliquely relevant to the psychotherapist's workaday endeavors, I would suggest that they circumscribe a foundation without which creative work cannot occur.

            The existential approach to therapy proceeds with an emphasis upon the real relationship between therapist and client. Without a genuine encounter, it is doubtful that the therapeutic process will be anything but superficial. As Frieda Fromm-Reichmann admonishes, the client needs an experience rather than an explanation (in May, 1958, p. 81). This encounter, moreover, can be accomplished only to the extent that the therapist herself or himself has achieved some degree of authenticity. This point is crucial insofar as I think that this quality is a very rare bird these days, the more so among professionals who have spent years upon years in training programs unwittingly learning to define themselves from the outside in, by Kierkegaardian "externals":

In Christendom he too is a Christian, goes to church every Sunday, hears and understands the parson, yea, they understand one another; he dies; the parson introduces him into eternity for the price of $10"hbut a self he was not, and a self he did not become . . .

            . . . For the immediate man does not recognize his self, he recognizes himself only by his dress . . . he recognizes that he has a self only by externals. There is no more ludicrous confusion, for a self is just infinitely different from externals.
Soren Kierkegaard (1954 pp. 186-7),
The Sickness Unto Death

Early on in therapy, I tried, as we have noted, to relate genuinely to Ron and listen carefully to his story. Obvious as this may seem, it is a rare enough occurrence for most of us: to be heard without preconceived judgement or theory. In this way, Ron was tacitly encouraged to take the themes which he had himself brought into therapy seriously, to bear responsibility for them above and beyond pro forma expressions of significance. This contrasted sharply with others in Ron's life and past who had typically discouraged authentic confrontation of his anxiety and dis-ease. A thoroughly modern philosophy, really: kitsch, we may say, or the denial of the ontological dimension .

            Ron was not used to this sort of reception and tested it as he would any seemingly authoritarian arrangement. Early on in treatment he missed an appointment, several days following which I received the following courteous and matter-of-fact, if unspectacular, note:

Dr. Mendelowitz:

I'm sorry that I missed my appointment. I forgot all about it. I've had a lot on my mind. You can bill me for the appointment because it was my fault.

I believe that the treatment is helping but I have a long way to go. Thanks for your help. I think we have a good relationship.

I will call you later this week to reschedule and won't forget about the appointment again.

Take care,

Ron

When Ron arrived at his next appointment, he apologized once again. I accepted his apology graciously and without fanfare, commenting only that it would be helpful to have advance notice of a missed session. I did not interpret his "forgetfulness" as resistance, which it likely was on a certain level. Resistance, it is understood, has many dimensions and refers at its deepest level to the all-too-human tendency toward self-betrayal, the maneuvering by which one avoids, first and foremost, oneself.

Perhaps the most tragic thing about the human situation is that a man may try to supplant himself, that is, to falsify his life.
Jose Ortega y Gasset (1953, p. 295),
In Search of Goethe from Within

Or, as Nietzsche somewhere observes, the most common lie is the lie which we lie to ourselves. I do not, then, interpret resistance in a strictly psychoanalytic or self-referential way, but rather existentially, as an avoidance of self. This a point of fundamental importance, for it emphasizes, once again, the tension inexorable between freedom and destiny and one's ultimate responsibility for oneself.

Many patients go to psychiatrists as if to psychic surgeons. When such a patient comes to such a therapist a relationship of considerable length may result, but little else. For the job can be done, if at all, only by the patient. To assign this task to anyone else, however insightful or charismatic, is to disavow the source of change. In the process of personality change the role of the psychiatrist is catalytic. As a cause he is sometimes necessary, never sufficient.
Alan Wheelis (1973, p. 7),
How People Change

Once this is realized, the therapy proceeds quite naturally as the client chooses change supported (now gently, now more forcibly) by the therapeutic relationship within the context and confines of the therapeutic container.

            Essentially, then, the psychotherapist need to let go of her or his own compulsivity, that is, of the compulsion to act or solve . This is harder than it sounds but serves to underscore the essential tension between the client's incessant search for answers and clearly delineated techniques of change and the ultimate realization that one, in the end, is responsible for oneself.

When the Zen master Po-chang was asked about seeking for the Buddha nature he answered, "It's much like riding an ox in search of an ox."
Fritjof Capra (1975, p. 124),
The Tao of Physics

Like Wheelis, the Zen master understands the futility of the search for magic fluid.

            With these thoughts in mind, let us briefly review some of the salient aspects of Ron's course of psychotherapy. Ton has been working with me for something over two years in weekly sessions, which he is currently in the process of winding down. Early in treatment, Ron was able to recognize that his exaggerated reaction to his fiancée's disclosure belied his own significant impulse to antisocial behavior, an impulse, as we have noted, episodically acted out. With this realization, the client quickly settled into the real therapeutic struggle: that of a confrontation with self . He gradually acknowledged that beneath a veneer of bravado he harbored deep-seated feelings of insecurity and a concomitant resentment of authority. Clashes with the law and its enforcers, ambivalence about a rigid moral code Ron had inherited but not chosen, an oftentimes judgmental and supercilious attitude toward his fiancée (indeed, toward women in general), all related to the client's unresolved themes gathering about a world which was over constricted, limiting, lacking in nuance and depth.

            It is important to note that, just as the client's insecurity, his reactive egotism and relentless need to achieve, had its roots in relationship, his authentic confrontation with these themes would likely come about only through a corrective connection, once based on presence and genuine empathy. Once Ron had successfully tested the relationship to his satisfaction (a far stormier affair than I will here elaborate), he was able to settle into the real work of therapy. Although numerous similarities exist between existential approaches to change and so-called Eastern "ways of liberation," this is a way in which the two related approaches significantly diverge: for us, relationship is paramount, the very lynchpin of change.

Gradually, using the therapist as support and guide, Ron was able to move forward in his embracement of freedom. Realizing that his work was not satisfying in any fundamental way, and acknowledging further that what truly interested him was teaching and working with adolescents, Ron began to focus more on dissatisfaction with self and situation, rehearsing in therapy for the possibility of change. Within months, Ron gave up his position as a sales representative, finding odd and temporary employment while pursing his teaching credentials. He did all this, moreover, without the initial support of his parents and risking considerable uncertainty about his future in an economic climate that did not augur well for prospective teachers. Eventually (and here I was as much surprised as anyone), Ron's efforts paid off. He acquired a teaching position in his hometown. The work has been frustrating, challenging, yet ultimately rewarding. It is no longer a fixed endpoint, however, nor does the client any longer tread a carefully planned professional itinerary. He is more willing to live in the moment, as they say, accepting the inevitable pangs of life and death anxiety that will eventually lead yet again to further change. Already, he foresees a time when teaching will not hold so much interest for him as he looks now into graduate work in administration. Anxiety, no longer circumvented, is now accepted as the way of life, indeed, very much as normal.

Working with adolescents has elicited a periodic return of a moral rigidity which has at times limited Ron's ability to relate to and ultimately help his students. With each new return of the repressed, however, Ron is quickly able to look within and recognize that the source of the struggle is significantly internal. To the extent that he does this, he becomes more self-accepting (of doubt, of passion, of the daimonic) and better able to accept others. Interestingly, Ron has acquired numerous accolades in his two years of teaching, though these awards no longer seem to carry the weight they possessed when he worked so "hard at life, at getting to the next step." The emphasis is now on self and genuine relationship, this as opposed to external validation.

On the interpersonal front, my sense is that the client has not fared quite so well. About a year after the initiation of psychotherapy, Ron married his fiancee. He and I agree that there have been compromises here insofar as his feelings about his wife have never matched those he once had for a former girlfriend. I tactfully and gently brought up these perceived compromises without any presumption whatsoever of knowing what was best for the client. Respect for autonomy is absolutely essential in effective psychotherapy. Clients will change, if at all, in their own direction and at their own pace.

The marriage has been supportive for Ron yet limiting as well, as his wife too struggles with relentless insecurity. Ron realizes the compromises herein (compromises which bother him more at certain times than at others) but has been less than successful at getting his wife to seriously pursue her own course of therapy. "She's a good person," of often sighs, fully aware that this is no longer always enough. Here, as elsewhere, I have maintained a nonjudgmental stance. I understand well the difficulties involving in seeking one's "soul image" (Jung, 1921/1961) and find few individuals who choose relationships for reasons that altogether pure. Further, compromise, to the extent that it is conscious compromise, is still being addressed and need not be taken as failure. It may be acted upon at a future point.

At the very least, Ron seems to have significantly worked through his prejudicial attitudes toward women. He now freely accepts that his wife's insecurities mirrors frankly his own and understands that is father has, through life, been as utterly dependent on his hero-identity as is mother has been on a more subsidiary role. In this respect, his relationships with mother and wife has improved, and he is more discerning of his father's shortcomings. Thus, the client's former world of absolutism slowly yields to one of relativity and ambiguity of the human endeavor.

As Ron winds down his present course of therapy, I ponder the relationship and the process of change. Ron is undoubtedly more fulfilled in his work and life than before. He has seized his own rung. Whatever frustrations now ensue, they are, at the very least, a consequence of choosing his own life rather than what we may call "soul murder." This is genuine freedom, freedom that encompasses destiny. In relationship, Ron continues to struggle with feelings of uneasiness, inconsistency. Here, too, however there are signs of real growth as the client is far less defensive and more open to others than was formerly the case. The psychotherapeutic process has separated Ron further from anonymous and everyday relations while heightening an existential loneliness as he searches for others to whom he can more deeply relate. This is, perhaps, the price one pays for increased authentication of one's existence. The client now seeks genuine encounter, hardly something that can be ordered up at will. Further, Ron is presently only twenty-six years of age. I foresee a future for him that is open, unscripted, and full of possibility.

Although Ron's progress has been impressive in many respects, it is important to note that I by no means contrive of it a trophy for myself. Just as the client is ultimately responsible for himself, so too in the end is he due the real credit for growth achieved. The psychotherapist's role, as Rollo May has often observed, is like that of Virgil in Dante's Divine Comedy: the therapist is a guide who eventually is left behind for even loftier heights. (I am well aware of the numerous individuals whom I have not helped and do not choose to shoulder accountability for that is and isn't accomplished in psychotherapy.) The client's youth and turbulence and perhaps by own lack of pretense all augured well in the present instance, but it was Ron himself who took up the challenge. For psychologists who have spent half their lives in training programs and small fortunes on textbooks and the latest workshops on technique, it may seem a rather prosaic thing to be counted as mere midwives, but it is nonetheless so. And, to be sure, it is perhaps no small feat to bring something new into the world which will add neither to the noise nor the folly and just may, in fact, contribute to the ultimate good of a planet that has quite obviously lost its way. Midwifery, we recall, was good enough a career for Socrates.

In a similar vein, I no longer try to be overly objective about the precise means by which change occurs in therapy. The brilliant Otto Rank once treated a patient who, curious about a sudden and uncharacteristic burst of self-assertion on his way to the psychoanalytic hour, later recalled:

And so Rank said, "Well, I will tell you something that you may find rather comforting. I don't understand what happens." He said, "You don't understand, and neither do I." He just simply knew that from experience he could expect that certain things could happen if they were handled rightly and if the person's psyche and personality could be influenced for the better along certain lines. But he wouldn't pretend at all to try to give me a lecture on why it was happening because he said, "I don't know."
(in Lieberman, 1985, p. 272)

The sages of old had nothing on Rank.

            Finally, Ron's compulsive traits remain in many respects, though certainly abated. Many of his current laments and longings are strikingly reminiscent of early sessions, reminding us of Jung's insight that the fundamental problems in life are never resolved in any final way. Still, there is real joy that Ron and I have experienced in this relationship, one that has enabled the client to open himself further to life in a way hitherto unthinkable. If Rank is right about the human tendency toward "partialization" of the world (and could can doubt that he is?), Ron's purview is now at least broader. He sees further into life as he embraces the joys and burdens of freedom. He is no longer a wheel horse. The result, I am convinced, will be a more fulfilling existence, one in which does not flinch from life or death nor his particular way:

"And that's life: it does not resemble a picaresque novel in which from one chapter to the next the hero is continually being surprised by new events that have no common denominator. It resembles a composition that musicians call a theme with variations."
Milan Kundera (1991, p. 275),
Immortality

Who among us could say more?

References:

Ansbacher, H. L., & Ansbacher, R. R. (Eds.). The Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler NY: Harper Torchbooks, 1956.

Buber, M. Tales of the Hasidim: Later Masters (O. Marx, trans.). NY: Schoken Books 1948.The Way of Man According to the Teachings of Hasidism. In Religion

from Tolstoy to Camus . NY: Harper Torchbooks, 1965.

Capra, Fritjof. The Tao of Physics. Boulder: Shambala Publications, 1975.

Fromm, E. Escape from Freedom. NY: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, 1941.

Kierkegaard, S. The Point of View (W. Lowrie, trans.). London: Oxford University Press,1939.

Kierkegaard, S. The Concept of Dread (W. Lowrie, trans.). Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1944.

Kierkegaard, S. Fear and Trembling and The Sickness unto Death (W Lowrie, trans.). NY: Anchor Books, 1954.

Kundera, M. The Art of the Novel (L. Asher, trans.). NY: Harper & Row, 1988.

Kundera, M. Immortality (P. Kussi, trans.). NY Grove Widenfeld, 1991.

Jung, C.G. Psychological Types (R. F. C. Hull, trans.). NY: Bollingen Foundation, 1961.

Lieberman, J. Acts of Will: The Live and Work of Otto Rank . NY: Free Press, 1985.

May, R. Contributions of existential psychotherapy. In R. May, E. Angel, & H.F. Ellenberger (Eds.), Existence: A New Dimension in Psychology and Psychiatry. NY: Basic Books, 1958.

May, R. Origins of the existential movement in psychology. In R. May, E. Angel, & H.F. Ellenberger (Eds.), Existence: A New Dimension in Psychology and Psychiatry. NY: Basic Books, 1958.

May, R. Psychology and the Human Dilemma . NY: Norton, 1967.

May, R. Freedom and Destiny . NY: Norton, 1981.

Milosz, C. The Captive Mind (J. Zielonko, trans.). NY: Vintage books, 1981.

Nietzsche, F. The Gay Science (w. Kaufmann, trans.). NY: Vintage Books, 1974.

Ortega y Gasset, J. In search of Goethe from within (W. R. Trask, trans.). In M. Friedman (Ed.), The Worlds of Existentialism . NY: Random House, 1964.

Pagels, E. The Gnostic Gospels . NY: NY: Vintage Books, 1989.

Rank, O. Will Therapy and Truth and Reality (J. Taft, trans.). NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1936.

Wheelis, A. How People Change . NH: Harper and Row, 1973.

Yalom, I. Existential Psychotherapy . NY: Basic Books, 1980.

Copyright 2004, Ed Mendelowitz, All Rights Reserved

 

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