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By Nathan W. Ackerman

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Sample text

This continuous apprehension of injury throws over the lives of such persons a constant shadow; apparently they can perceive nothing in the world around them except danger. If other people suffer, they react not with sympathy but rather with the fear that they too are destined for the same suffering. Such an unsympathetic and self-centered view of the world is illustrated by Case 12. This young Jewish woman is deeply anti-Semitic. She underwent a nose operation, and wore a cross-like ornament with the wish to be taken for a Christian.

The diagnoses cover a wide range of disturbances. 1 The range of symptoms that led the patient to consult with a psychoanalyst or a social-service agency was, of course, even wider. It was striking to observe that many of the symptoms presented by these patients were vague, and relatively lacking in structure and form. On the whole, the complaints concerned a feeling of insecurity, loneliness, unhappiness, confusion, difficulty in finding friends or establishing a satisfactory sex life, absence or vagueness of life goals, inability to maintain interest, etc.

His mother was a dominant woman whose rigid religiosity banned all feelings of ease and relaxation. Not even laughter was permitted in her house, and under her influence, emotionality and sex became symbols of evil. As a boy, the patient lived as though pleasure and "goodness" were incompatible. Pleasure was reprehensible and he decided in favor of goodness. But the repression was incomplete; and impotence, as the manifestation of the unsuccessful repression, was revealed in analysis to be accompanied by deep-seated anxiety about the threat of injury in sexual relations.

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