Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Archive for the ‘Freud’ Category

Oedipal Eye

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on July 22, 2013

A Psychoanalysis of Justin Bieber and His New Tattoo

In light of my review of “The Way, Way Back” I am drawn to this article about Justin Bieber. His mother’s eye is tattooed on the inside of his elbow, leaving me to speculate as to the meaning of this drawing. I imagine a boy who wanted to please his mother, along with a boy with musical talent and showmanship, leading him to a life with great public success, but perhaps with deep ambivalence towards his mother who led him down this road. The eye represents his attachment to his mother. He has externalized his internal experience of keeping her in the forefront of his mind. He can bend his arm and pretend she is gone, but then, inevitably, he is confronted with her, yet again. The symbolism and the poetry of this artistic creation is moving, and perhaps sad. He cares what his mother thinks, or so I assume, but is this at the expense of what he thinks? The challenge of both attaching and then separating comes to my mind. This is the Oedipal struggle, the struggle of life,  that all attachments are temporary.  Yet, the internal connection remains as long as one can keep the significant other alive in the internal world. Perhaps Justin Bieber wanted some insurance for this attachment, in the form of a reminder memo. Wild speculation-that is what this is! Mental fun!

Posted in Freud, Oedipal, Unconscious Living | 4 Comments »

Talking Back To The Talkback

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on February 10, 2013


So, I studied CS Lewis. I reviewed Freud’s life. I watch the PBS Special entitled “The Question of G-d.” When it came down to the last few days, I mostly worried about my hair. This was a new and exciting experience for me, and as such, I felt like I had to narrow the field into one particular anxiety. In an odd way, that seemed to calm me down. Speaking to professionals is comfortable for me. I have a sense of why they come and what they want to hear to make their time feel well spent. This opportunity presented different challenges. I did not have a grasp as to who was in this audience. Some, a few, came to support me, and for that I was very grateful. Yet, the majority, I assume, were West Los Angeles theater goers who came to be entertained, but their idea of enjoyment was not so clear to me. How much did they know about Sigmund Freud or CS Lewis before they entered into this ninety minute sword fight? I made my best guess, as I approached the play as a drama which illustrated the conflict of ideas, as opposed to action. The mental game, if you will, provided the action in the mind. My five minutes on stage before the actors came on, felt long and short at the same time. I had a lot of ideas, but I also felt braced for the transition from speaker to moderator. The actors did arrive on stage, and I reminded myself that my job is to repeat the question, which sounds much easier than it actually is. No worries though, since the actors repeated the question they wanted to answer, and so I was left to hold my tongue from my urge to make the discussion linear. The actors exerted their charm. I was, as I expected, mostly a tree at this point. The evening concluded and then I could relax. Yet, like ending a good book, or leaving a good movie, I was left bereft. I so enjoyed the intense focus of trying to understand the life and work of two great thinkers in the twentieth century. Of course, I could continue my quest, but without the thought of standing up in front of five hundred strangers, the push to learn more has dissipated. My début is complete. I am open to more opportunities…..hint, hint!


Posted in Freud, Media Coverage, Teaching, Teaching Psychoanalysis | 9 Comments »

CS Lewis: Known as “Jack”

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on February 8, 2013


According to Wikipedia, “at the age of four, shortly after his dog Jacksie was killed by a car, he (CS Lewis) announced that his name was now Jacksie. At first, he would answer to no other name, but later accepted Jack, the name by which he was known to friends and family for the rest of his life.” This vignette intrigues me, as I continue to prepare for my upcoming Talkback. My contention is that CS Lewis and Freud are each representing different aspects of their own belief systems. In essence, they agree with each other, they maintain conflicting opinions, but, for the purposes of a writing career, for the purpose of establishing a place in history,  they articulate only one side of the argument about G-d, sexuality and the meaning of life. Given that point of view, I take from CS Lewis, insisting on being called the name of his suddenly deceased dog, is a way in which he lives out  his belief that death is not permanent, so long as someone keeps your memory alive. So much of the discussion about the meaning of life, stems from one’s view of death. If death is final, then fear might ensue. If death is one step on a longer journey, then perhaps one can relax into life. If CS Lewis could think about his dog every day, as he is called by his dog’s name every day, then Jacksie is still alive, yet in a different way then before he was hit by a car. As February represents a month of memories for me, of a particular person that I was close to, who is no longer with us (or me), I, too, am aware of how important it is to keep the discussion, and hence the person, long away from our living world, alive in a way which still has meaning for me. I imagine telling others to now call me by the deceased person’s name. I can feel how special this would make me feel. I can feel that I was not just living my life, but theirs as well. The name would represent a “containment” as Winnicott  would say. In this “containment” there is peace. CS Lewis, Jack, was on to something psychoanalytic; a fact he may take issue with. May he rest in peace.

Posted in Freud, Identification, Professional Development, Teaching Psychoanalysis | 4 Comments »

“The Question of G-d”

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on January 11, 2013

This book, by Dr. Nicholi, is the basis for Mark St. Germain’s play “Freud’s Last Session,” in which, as per previous post, I will be one of the “Talkback” speakers. In preparation for my début, I have given myself homework to read this book and watch the PBS series of the same title. I have also purchased the script of the play (available for $8.00 on Amazon), that I plan to read after I have done my background exploration.

As I begin this book, I am struck by the following paragraph:

      “None of us can tolerate the notion that our worldview may be based on a false premise and, thus, our whole life headed in the wrong direction. Because of the far-reaching    implications for our lives, we tend to dismiss and contradict arguments for the worldview we reject. I hope each reader will critically assess the arguments of both Freud and Lewis and follow Sir Francis Bacon’s advice to  ‘Read not to contradict….but to weigh and consider.’ ”

Dr. Nicholi concludes this part of the prologue by saying:  “It is my hope that Freud and Lewis can jointly guide us through just such an examination.”

I will continue to post as I read this book, but my first fear is that Dr. Nicholi has made Freud’s view on religion more central to Freud’s contribution than his theories related to the process of mining the unconscious. If lay people walk away from this play thinking that Freud was set to make people atheists than they will miss the point that Freud’s theory on religion fit into a much broader theory of the human mind. One does not have to accept Freud’s ideas about religion to gain from his ideas about self-sabotage and the primacy of one’s parental relationships. Likewise, I suspect that C. S. Lewis has brought us far more than his views on religion. His writings are so prolific that it would be sad to think of him only in these terms.

Maybe this will be my opening statement. I will have less than five minutes to introduce the “Talkback”. I will probably spend hours thinking about those five minutes. Time well spent, meaningfully spent, I should say, given the gravity of this topic.

See also…http:,0,4591570.story

Posted in Book Reveiw, Cultural Activities, Culture Vulture, Freud, My Events, Teaching Psychoanalysis | 7 Comments »

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