Anger displacement during Social Isolation

-“Doctor…when I arrive home, I can’t help lashing out at the kids—feel so guilty.”

Verschiebung. This German term can be translated as “Shift” or “move.” It was used by Sigmund Freud to describe a particular psychological defense mechanism; it entails the shifting or displacement of an aggressive and potentially dangerous emotion from an important person or object into other ones that are less relevant and often lame. [i] Our patient had many situations of emotional frustration in her blue- collar job with her despotic boss and his unreasonable demands at work but she hid her anger towards him and the system, fearful of losing her job in tough  times. On many occasions, she scolded her children a little bit too much for not completing their homework or for just some obnoxious but inconsequential pranks.

This unconscious defense mechanism is an expression of what Freud had dubbed as the mortido—our basic aggressive drive. There are three basic mechanisms:

  1. Displacement of object
  2. Displacement of attribution
  3. Bodily displacements

A – Displacement of object

Some acrid emotions are displaced from one person into another one. Our patient’s anger toward her boss—who has authority and power to decide on her economic survival—had indeed been transferred into her  children—who are totally innocent and incapable of posing a threat to her as they are dependent on her. This situation will sadly become much more common in our modern societies because the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has furloughed millions of workers worldwide and many of them will not be able to return to their old jobs due to inevitable closure of businesses. In the much more genteel days of Freud’s practice in nineteenth century Vienna, he put the example of children’s animal phobias; in order “to sanitize” their fears towards their parents, some children develop aversion to certain animals: dogs, cats, spiders.

B – Displacement of attribution

A personality trait that we might see in ourselves but that we consider as socially unacceptable or even reprehensible will be transferred to another person or entity. The typical example is a closeted homosexual who engages in continuous joking about gays or other LGBTQ individuals to perform a psychological projection. We can also find extreme examples in History like the horrific persecution of gays in Nazi Germany conducted by Ernst Röhm, co-founder with Adolf Hitler of the Sturmabteilung (SA); he was a barely disguised homosexual that was executed in the middle of an orgy by the German Army—fearful that his formations were gaining too much strength in the street—during the Night of the Long Knives in 1934. [ii]

C – Bodily Displacements

It consists of the attribution of a sensation experienced by one part of the body to another distant one; one of the commonest instances is when an oral sensation “is experienced” as coming from the vagina. John Cleland wrote a book in 1748 titled Fanny Hill or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure [iii]where he used funny euphemisms in order to refer to body parts that were not openly mentioned in prudish Albion; he dubbed the vagina as the nethermouth. He was a rebellious writer and some sources claimed that he finished it when he was serving a prison sentence for a bad debt. He printed it in two installments in November 1748 and February 1749; he was released from prison in March 1748 (he graduated from the University of Life…I like him)

“I picked two fights at work. One with a customer and one in a Slack [iv] queue with my colleagues, and I regret both terribly. They are possibly the first two fights I have ever instigated in my life. Wish I could have hashtagged those. #furstfightbearwithme.”

Ms. Chrissie, a lovely, clever, funny fellow writer and blogger [v], honestly shared her unfortunate event in a recent blog, which triggered this reaction from yours truly:

“The little anger that you inadvertently vented against two individuals is part of the humongous one building up in the street. It happened to almost all of us lately.

Unfortunately as we slowly come out of our forced Social Distancing and we interact more with our fellow human beings, we will discover that not only they, but us as well, are displaying a shorter fuse and we might snap at the slightest incident. We might be able to contain ourselves outside our homes, with an occasional “mea culpa” if we allow our emotions to get the best of ourselves in the survival frenzy.  What we have to keep clearly in mind that we cannot—absolutely cannot—bring that heightened state of alertness and potential aggressiveness to our dear families. Maybe we should go back to the old ways from our ancestors to vent off that stress.

Get the punching bag from the attic. Paste the image of your boss right up. 

Go. And do not pull any punches. Sweet.

(This article was based on our upcoming new book Emotional Frustration- the hushed plague)

References

[i] Sigmund Freud, New Introductory letters on Psychoanalysis, George Allen and Unwin, London, January 1940,

[ii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst-Rohm.

[iii] John Cleland, Fanny Hill, Gray Rabbit Publishing, London, 2018.

[iv] Chrissie described this tool as a fast-paced messenger service that is commonly used in certain offices. https://slack.com/

[v]  https://chrissie.blog/2020/05/13/are-you-okay/

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Masturbation during Social Isolation – part II

No possibility of any social encounters. Not even the platonic kind. What to do?

After almost two months of Social Distancing and Forced Isolation, we are all fed up. With perturbed nights and never-ending weekends, we might feel entitled to a little fun.

Pour quoi pas? 

For such obvious reasons, people are recurring more often to “the company of one.”  

However, it has always been too difficult to get reliable data about Onanism due to the timidity or hypocrisy of respondents that, even though they practice it in earnest, deny it vehemently in written and oral surveys on this subject. But times are changing…

Under the auspices of the Trojan company—makers of the famous condoms—Dr. Robin Milhausen, a sex investigator of the University of Guelph, conducted a survey with his colleagues to find the incidence and prevalence of Masturbation now. They found that:

a) Men engaged in that practice at least once a week at a rate double than women (65% to 35%) but women reported a pleasurable experience more frequently than men did (38% of women to 29% of men)
b) 43% of women that did it on a regular basis reported that their latest one was more pleasurable, compared to 27% of women that did it occasionally.
c) Men who considered that their last practice was pleasurable were more likely to be more emotionally stable in their couple relationships.
d) 47% of women and 39% of men who liked their latest drill were more likely to say that they were satisfied with their sexual lives.
e) 54% of women used a vibrator to boost pleasure; of those 46% of them said that their latest drill was more pleasurable compared to 35% of those that did not use it.

The Japanese company TENGA—makers of sex toys—conducted surveys worldwide about the frequency of Masturbation to prepare a 2019 Self-Help Pleasure report. In the particular case of the USA, they found the following:

a) Americans ranked fourth in this agitated sport—84% of respondents—behind Germany (89%), the United Kingdom (91%) and the world champion, Spain (93%)
b) The three more common reasons to do it were: sexual satisfaction (31%), reach sexual climax(25%) and relief of stress (21%)
c) Heterosexual and LGBT Americans were more likely to drill on a regular basis—91% and 94% respectively—compared to women (78%)
d) Men are more likely to start at a very young age—13 years old on average—and women usually start several years later.
e) Contrary to men, women find the practice more pleasurable than the real act; 37% of women considered that the solo practice was better than sex, compared to 33% of men.
f) Non-LGBT individuals consider than sex is much more pleasurable.

Dr. Julie Richters, investigator at the University of New South Wales, conducted a survey of almost 20,000 Australians to study their solo practices. They found that:

  1. 72% of men and 42% of women had masturbated in the past year.
  2. Half of the men (51%) and a 24% of the women had done in the past four weeks.
  3. In the past year, two-fifths of respondents—63% of men and 20% of women—browsed some pornography material in various presentations.
  4. 21% of women and 15% of men had used a sex toy.
  5. 19% of men and 15% of women had practiced digital-anal stimulation.
  6. 7% of men and 4% of women had engaged in oral-anal stimulation.
  7. 7-8% played sexual roles or engaged in cross-dressing.

We will prudently give our distinguished readership a few days to digest this data; in a follow-up article, we will discuss the possible benefits of Onanism for all genres.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

(This article was based on our upcoming new book Emotional Frustration – the hushed plague)

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.
Don’t leave me alone.

 

Bel dimanche avec une Choucroute Garnie à la Nouvelle Alsatienne

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good evening and Happy Sunday to all of you. We hope that you are well and in good spirits, most likely bearing this forced Social Isolation (how many days already? Can’t remember….) with your loved ones. Today we prepared a traditional dish, from that fabulous gastronomic region straddling the French and German borders: Alsace. It has perhaps, with Bretagne, Bourgogne, Provence and Le Pays Basque, some of the very best cuisine that we can find in l’Hexagone. They use hearty meats and the finest produce.

Choucroute Garnie - Io

To make this dish more healthy, we did not use the traditional slabs of bacon to sautée the potatoes and vegetables but a dollop of Extra Virgin Olive Oil; also to give it more flavor we added some mushrooms, artichokes, garlic, ginger and jalapeño peppers. Of course we added the classic sauerkrraut on top. We used less meat, just some bratwurst  that we grilled separately to take out all the excess fat. We hope you enjoy our recipe.

We will sit down with Gian Luca momentarily to enjoy this dish with some Jack Daniels whisly to celebrate in style his excellent semester grades from the Creative Writing program at Florida State University. Even in Social Distancing, we must keep good rituals.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

Bon apétit à tous mes amis et toutes mes amies!

Choucroute Garnie- Giani

Emotional toss-up during Social Isolation

“Doctor…I never had so many fab orgasms—not going back to same old.”

Wanda X. is a lovely middle-aged entrepreneur that had the misfortune of being surprised by the “staying at home” order in a business trip to a distant state. Fortunately, she had an old friend from college that gladly welcomed her to bunk. Unlike her, she has been single and childless, which gave her a lot of sexual leeway.

One of the little perks of her friend’s lifestyle is to unabashedly recur to the use of a dildo whenever she had the irrepressible urge for satisfaction of her sexual needs. Reluctant at first to try it, Wanda X. eventually relented, after a month of seclusion. Slowly she learnt how to practice with a sexual toy in a responsible, adult way. When she would be able to return to her home, she will sit down to chat with her partner. She will tell him that she finally had it enough of her culturally-assigned role of a passive giver of love and that she demands the urgent addition of a more fun dual role of receiver too. Holy mackerel!

The emotional toss-up of the Social Isolation will shake up many conventional couples.

One of the most disregarded aspects of the mandatory Social Isolation that we have been enduring for more than one month already is its serious emotional toll on us. Like the young women and men that went into isolation in a Florentine villa in the Decameron, those coming out of this seclusion will not be the same ones that went in. At the civic level, there will be multiple changes in our societies, especially for labor opportunities.

The economic analysts are predicting that, besides the contraction of consumer spending due to loss of jobs, there will be a two-speed labor market. On one hand there will be persons that can work at a distance and with little physical contact. But on the other hand, there will be those that will be dangerously exposed to contagion. This will bring a generalized angry mood in the street like we have never witnessed before. No longer will we be able to count on the help of a smiling barista at our Starbucks; she might be too worried about being infected while mulling about her son’s day care. After her shift is over, she might be too stressed out to even consider going out with her girlfriends.

I‘m a single Mom working long shifts with hardly any toilet breaks for the barely minimum to pull my kids and I a few inches away from the always menacing edge of the poverty pit.

And you expect me to smile? About what? Com’ on. Grab your latte and move on, Buster.

Next customer in line!

The same anxiety and depression that pervades the working environment will be translated in a creeping loss of libido and eroticism in many blue collars’ bedrooms. Those lucky enough to have a privileged spot in the New World order will be less amenable to servile attitudes in loving, especially because many will be women.

The ladies will demand equal rights with their partners, which is a positive outcome. The manly partners that are out of a job will have to stay home to take care of the kids. And if they want to keep their women happy, they would have to learn how to cook nice meals. And be more attentive to their “little details”, including listening to them and bringing them flowers regularly (a bouquet once per month will not break the family budget)

Only with the combined effort of all the genres, will we be able to cross this junction.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

(This article is based on our upcoming new book “Emotional Frustration – the hushed plague.”)

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

The symbology of Silence

“Nothing happens. Nobody comes, nobody goes. It’s awful.”

Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett

One of the most anguishing and troubling plays in modern theatre centers around two “losers” called Vladimir and Estragon waiting for the arrival of a mysterious Godot who keeps sending messages that he will show up but never actually does. They represent two human beings that do not know why they are living in first place; this is a resiliently disturbing question that keeps popping up during the pandemic.

Waiting for Godot [i] was initially published in French by Samuel Beckett in 1952 and became the first success of the Theatre of the Absurd; some critics have interpreted it as a product of Existentialism that proclaimed that life had no rational meaning and that we should not waste time trying to find any, even with religions. For all their miserable existence, the two central characters—usually represented as tramps—cling to the assumption that Godot—the representation of God or other altruistic meaning of life—will eventually appear and give answers. At the end of the play, dismissing the despairing nihilistic message that Beckett had intended to convey, many of us have emotionally identified with the two tramps who finally rose above their banality. Seeking answers for our existence, we are all as destitute as them.

In these times of enforced Social Isolation, the hitherto boisterous venues of Life—the quarterly streets, the public transportation, the work offices—have been deserted of all the varied sounds from the human presence —their conversations, their laughs, their exclamations. Seizing the opportunity, Silence has tyrannically filled all those spaces.

However, there are interlopers from our past that dare to show up uninvited. Even though we might be busy during the “staying at home” mandate working at a distance, doing homely duties, parenting tasks, neglected tasks/repairs, etc., there is always a critical moment when the abetting “nothingness” invites memories that for some clear or intriguing reasons, we usually store in the back of our minds.

A few days ago, I suddenly stopped typing on this laptop because one of the memories from the most painful day of my life—when my mother Gladys had passed away and we were in her wake—brutally came crashing down on me. Right before the time to close her casket came, we were asked to leave the room. Being the last one to exit, I had a change of heart halfway down the hallway. I turned around and returned with decisive strides. Once back in the room, I gently leaned over my dear Mommy to caress her beautiful hair and slowly kiss her saintly forehead.

“Hasta luego, Mamá ”, I whispered to her.

I knew then that I was not saying goodbye to her at all . Only “see you later.” I had the feeling that Gladys was rightfully, peacefully entering into another world, after working and , being such a uniquely empathic person, suffering for all her family members.

We must push back against the paralyzing inertia that may be poisoning our spirits with the renewed expressions of humanly endeavor filled with affection and hope.

Women have always been of paramount importance to carry out this task.

Let us give them the much-needed respect and consideration they deserve.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

(This article is based on our upcoming new book “Emotional Frustration – the hushed plague”)

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

[i] Samuel Beckett, En Attendant Godot, Les Editions de Minuit, Paris, 2002.

Happy International Workers’ Day

Dear readers and fellow bloggers;

Good morning. Today in almost all the countries of the planet we are celebrating the International Day of the Workers to honor all those that are toiling daily for society.

In these times of widespread Social Distancing and Lock-down to flatten the curve of the pandemic spread, there are millions of workers of all genres that show up daily in their posts to carry out their socially responsible tasks – first responders, police forces, medical personnel, supermarket and warehouse employees, cattle growers, dairy farmers, fishermen, postal and cable operators, social communicators, administrative personnel.

Thanks to their generous sacrifice we are able to bear this forced isolation in our homes.

We salute you all in your day!

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Are Singles better prepared for Social Isolation?

The quasi-centennial woman had been living in the same humble shack with a loyal dog and a dozen chickens in a small clearing of one of the most forbidding sub-tropical forests of South America—El Impenetrable, a large expanse bordering the Bermejo River in the northwestern part of Chaco province and the southwestern part of Formosa provinces of Argentina. One of her many grandchildren, and sometimes even a great grandchild, would come to check on her and bring supplies almost daily but they all preferred to live in a nearby small urban settlement.

She claimed that her social isolation in such natural habitat suited her just fine. She woke up early every day to do her homely errands with enthusiasm, preparing her own meals based on a largely vegetarian diet with some poultry or freshwater fish. She continued to smoke moderately, and she sometimes drank a little alcohol too. When the reporter asked her what the secret of her unusual longevity was, she said:

“Because I don’t have a man that heats up my head every day.”

The forced social distancing and isolation brought by the Coronavirus pandemic has forcibly obliged millions of people to stop working in public/ private institutions or attending educational institutions with a resulting estrangement from other persons. Individuals with stable sex partnerships have been traditionally considered as more apt to withstand the Mental Health consequences of this kind of social situation. However, the previous existence of millions of men and women who had expressly chosen a single lifestyle in modern societies has gravely questioned that assumption.

In an article of the Health section of The Washington Post, Joan DelFattore reviewed the responses from several singles contacted by e-mail or found in the social media. “This is the moment I’ve been training for all my life!’ an unnamed introvert asserts in a Facebook post…Edie Jarolim, a freelance writer and editor in Arizona, can relate to that sentiment—that adults who have chosen to live alone may be better adapted than many to the stay-at-home restrictions in place in large parts of the USA.” Most of the respondents were nonetheless concerned that they could be discriminated against if rationing of the scarce health care resources—lifesaving ventilators for example—were eventually instituted in a dramatic junction of this terrible pandemic.

A longstanding complaint of the singlehood-by-choice surfaced again: the lack of respect for their lifestyle choice from the mainstream citizenry. Many persons confound the fact of “being alone” with the sentiment of “being lonely.” Especially because they disregard that many of these singles do have a strong social support. Moreover, the lack of sentimental strings prods them to seek a varied company.

Since Biblical times, humans have been strongly encouraged to socialize and live in partnership with the opposite sex for healthier social outcomes. There has been a large pool of scientific literature to buttress the need for a stable sexual partner to avoid anxiety/depression, insomnia, obesity, cardiovascular disturbances, etc. But how about those individuals that expressly chose the singlehood to be more creative?

Julie C. Bowker, Miriam T. Stotsky and Rebecca G. Ekin published a seminal paper in 2017 where they examined the links between the withdrawal subtypes and some psycho-behavioral variables, finding challenging results for the avoidance models of withdrawal; they found that unsociability is associated positively with creativity. Julie Bowker said: “they are not antisocial…they don’t initiate interaction, but also don’t appear to turn down invitations from peers. Therefore they may get just enough peer interaction so that when they are alone, they are able to enjoy that solitude.” In order to study these unsociable-by-choice from the truly shy individuals or those who exhibit abnormal anti-social attitudes, they recruited 295 college students and subjected them to a battery of psychological testing. They found that those who were in fact shy or antisocial scored lower than average on the creativity indicators; the participants who were “unsociable” scored higher on those same indicators.

These authors proposed that unsociable persons “may be able to spend their time in solitude constructively, unlike shy and avoidant individuals who may be too distracted and/or preoccupied by their negative cognitions and distress.”

A question that has lingered in our mind for many years might merit to come into the open on this occasion. Like most human beings, we have commiserated with the miserable and lonely life that Vincent Van Gogh endured until the very last instant of his tortured life. However, would he have been able to produce so many beautiful tableaux of so many simple situations if he had been a most happily married man?

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

(This article is based on our upcoming new book Emotional Frustration – the hushed palgue)

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.