But before we go some more into the metapsychology of this defense, let us examine a little of his life history.
His sense of guilt was markedly accentuated by this event and his death wishes had worsened. There also was now a tremendous need to repeat the trauma of the accident. It was a typical "Repetition Compulsion" to a devastating Traumatic Neurosis.
His career, however, in the army did not last long. For he always felt restless in it, with an urge to be doing something else and finally checked himself out of it feeling like a failure.
He returned and formed another band. And once again just as he began to get successful with his music, disbanded it, cheated upon his wife which destroyed his marriage, and became a loner.
And he smoked all the time.
He would see himself running in to one of his swords - he had more than 30 of them, along with all other quaint weapons of destruction - or taking a long needle and sticking it through the rib cage straight into the heart. A method of suicide that would puncture his heart and cause instantaneous death and spare him from pain. He declared only the fear of going to hell - for God forbids suicide - and the fear as to who will take care of his cats prevented him from doing the deed.
Cigarette smoking is amply suited to do away with one's enemies. It is quick, it does not cause any immediate pain, the warmth of the smoke gives one pleasure that overrides the pain of the memory, and the action of blowing away the hated person is visible as the emerging smoke, and it makes one feel masculine and in control.
The tendency in some cultures - which strongly prohibit aggression against others - to indulge in self-immolation when they cannot destroy their enemy appears to be governed by the same mental mechanism. While burning themselves they are also burning the hated enemy with whom they identify. The psychology of anorexia nervosa is also identical. The girl does not eat - as a reaction to the feeling that she was inadequately nourished by her mother - and sees the fat in herself as a symbol of her mother, and destroys herself and the hated mother (through identification with her) by getting rid of every piece of fat and then every other piece of herself by not eating.
Another patient of mine, who incidentally is the childhood friend of the person whose case history we are using to illustrate here the motive behind smoking, and was his "roadie" during their glory days, after reading this blog, remarked that the psychology of bulimia can be explained on same line. Here the ambivalently loved person is eaten to incorporate into oneself and then spit out as a mark of its rejection.
I remarked to him that perhaps the phrase to chew them alive and spit them out expresses this concept in its visual concrete form.