Monday, January 10, 2011

Defiance against parents expressed as love for Tosh.O brand of humor

A young girl, barely 21, brought the following dream to the session:

I am in a jail. The jail is run by Tosh.O, who is a comedian. It is so weird for it makes no sense. Why would Tosh.O be running a jail. Jail is weird too. It has a long corridor with jail cells on both sides. There are 2 or 3 people in each cell and Tosh O. is holding them there as some form of punishment. They are kids from my high school, which is so weird. J [patient's boyfriend] is with me. He finagles his way out of the cell in which we are. In fact, our cell is the last one in the hall. He goes after Tosh.O, and possibly gets caught, for there is this loud scream which must be from him and which wakes me up.

Now long corridor with multiple cells reminded me of the typical dream of going from one room to another in a house or hotel, and which is a pictorial representation of polygamy, but by reversal symbolizes marriage - since marriage is an institution that protects one from the trials and tribulation of polygamy. And from previous sessions I knew that the girl was struggling with the issue of marriage, not sure if she should make a commitment, despite being with her boyfriend now for over five years. It is unclear why she hesitates committing herself, though we both think it has to do with her great ambivalence towards her father, who she once loved very dearly - during the Oedipal phase - but now cannot criticize enough. The constant criticism of the father is an attempt on her part to free herself from her unconscious bondage to him.
Anyway, I began the analysis by asking her as to who in the world is Tosh. O.
"He is a comedian. Daniel Tosh. I love him. J records his show on the VCR, when I am not there. I also look for his shows on U-tube and Comedy Central. He makes completely off the wall statements. Stupidest things. Gross stuff. Jokes on celebrities, horrible ones, absolutely forbidden statements. I cannot get enough of him."
Now making insulting, gross and forbidden statements towards celebrities, or those who are in high places, has its roots in showing such off-limit defiance towards one's parents - especially father who traditionally has ruled the roost - but out of filial piety they are displaced and expressed against these parent- substitutes.
So her fascination for Tosh.O humor must have arisen from his irreverence towards authorities, I reasoned.
Being somewhat familiar with her problems - for behind her obsessions lie thoughts of harming her parents and simultaneously thoughts of protecting them from her harmful thoughts - I commented to her that perhaps she wants to change places with Tosh.O and poke fun at celebrities [her parents]. That alone explains why she brought Tosh.O in her dream and then declared it was so weird. [Declaration of weirdness about a dream or its elements is always embarrassment over the intensity of the displacement the dream wish has to undergo before the dream can show it getting satisfied.]
She agreed with that interpretation, but only after a slight period of incredulity which broke into an admiring smile, and then brought the following association.
"There is one scene of Tosh O which I found so funny. He shows a woman coming down the steps who is such a klutz that she knocks people down with her arms which are flying all over the place. To punish her Tosh makes her walk down the steps again, but this time with her arms tied, and on a chair, and she has to bounce down each step."
I conjectured that the series of jail-cells in the dream were possibly taken from the series of steps on which the klutzy woman came down. In the TV scene she was knocking people every step of the way and this scene is transformed in the dream to show Tosh O punishing people in that series of jail cells. The steps have been transformed into jail cells. Your classmates from high school were your rivals and, given your competitive nature, you are getting even with them in the dream.
Patient agreed with the correctness of the interpretation and added that it also explains as to why my boyfriend and I are at the end of the long corridor. This allows us to get a good view of all the people in those cells getting punished by Tosh. O.
I wondered if the forbidden insulting things that Tosh. O does to celebrities is something she envies and it is a talent which she would like to steal for herself so she can get even with her parents and he school mates.
The girl agreed with the interpretation.
There is one point which needs explanation. If she wants to steal Tosh O's talent why does not she go after it himself instead of sending her boyfriend.
To steal a man's talent in the unconscious is equated with stealing his manhood. There is too much affect of fear associated with that. So she sends her boyfriend. For woman's ambition traditionally has been fulfilled through the daring of her man.
And though her boyfriend successfully escapes out of the cell and goes after Tosh O. to steal his talents, he gets caught, and since she is identifying with him, she is the one who wakes up with a loud scream. The anxiety/fear trumps the wishfulfilment and wakes her out of her dream.

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