Saturday, March 24, 2012

Phone Addiction a manifestation of Anxiety-Neurosis

A young woman in her mid-twenties reported that she loves her new razor phone for it makes her feel as if she is carrying the whole world in her pocket.

"The thing has so many applications that it is like having control over the whole world or at least the world that matters [to me]. Of course, the most important thing is to be able to see through the webcam my 5 year old son to make sure that he is safe when I am away from him. And I feel the same way about my parents. Making sure that no harm comes to them. You know what a nervous wreck I am about something happening to them. I am their only child and they always worried about me when I was growing up, restricting my life to the point that I had sometimes wished they were dead. Not really dead now, but kind of dead. It is so strange as to how the roles have reversed. The shoe is now on the other foot. I have to call them all the time to make sure they are OK."

And I wondered if the tendency to be on the phone that is so much more prevalent in women than in men, does not arise from anxiety. For in this patient, the affect of anxiety is so overwhelming.

"We are such worry warts especially my mother's side of family. Her mother would start worrying about the red light even when the car would be a mile away, driving my father crazy by the backseat instructions on how to deal with it. My mother is a nervous nellie, forever cleaning or doing some other obsessive ritual to prevent harm coming to all her relatives. And I am of course a basket-case unless I have that phone with me to call and make sure that everybody is doing fine. Per you, not that I accept it, it is because I fear my own death, and when this fear becomes difficult to handle, I deflect attention from it by starting to worry about the death of those who are close to me, and then to protect or at least to make sure that they are OK I start calling them. My mother does not call, but does her obsessions which are kind of magical behavior to undo the harm coming to her loved ones. It all makes sense but I am not convinced of it."

This made me wonder about a family member of mine who is always on the phone calling her relatives all over  the world and making sure that they are all doing well. And she has phenomenal memory for their birthdays. I had long suspected that her obsession with remembering their birthdays was to undo the death wish towards them, the roots of which lay in her wish for her younger brother, to have not been born. So this wish against her brother, which lies in her unconscious, for consciously she is very fond of him,  has got generalized against all her relatives, distant and close, and is countered by making sure that she never forgets their birthdays. It is as if to assure herself and them, "Far from wishing you all to have never been born, I care so much for your birth that I never forget that date."

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