Mary E Sonntag. Studies in Gender and Sexuality. Volume 8, Issue 1. Winter 2007.
“I replace the emptiness with hate. All I have left is hate. I have a choice: I can either feel dead and empty or alive and full of hate. I want to be alive.”
These were Tina’s words as she spoke of the profound sadness and anguish of one who is trapped in a rigidly configured way of experiencing and relating in human interactions. Tina could not feel affection or compassion for others, nor could she tolerate these feelings and expressions from others. Her relentless contempt engendered a prevailing atmosphere of hating and being hated.
In this paper, I discuss how hatred for certain individuals can become their most vital life force. Furthermore, I delineate some of the different pathways of how bonds of hate, constructed in early development, become the predominant and, in some instances, exclusive way of relating. Hate may then provide for the patient a sustaining connection and meaningful existence. Finally, I discuss how I experienced, managed, and regulated the passionate, hate-filled relationship that filled the room in my treatment with Tina.
Working with Tina, I experienced a new range and intensity of aversive and uncomfortable emotions. There were moments when I despised her and when she hesitated little to display her contempt toward me. Hate, though rarely spoken about directly, permeated the room. To survive-that is, to hold on to a sense of coherence and positive self-regard-I withdrew in a schizoid fashion or responded with retaliation (verbally and behaviorally). At the end of the day, I felt lonely and full of guilt, shame, and intolerable badness. But there were also days in which I felt invigorated, alive, and victorious. These contradictory states of mind led me to think about hatred and how it is conceptualized in analytic theory and experienced in the analytic space. In my sessions with Tina, I was the provoked and the provocateur, the container and the contained, the interpreter and the interpreted. I was the thermostat for too little or too much engagement and interaction. At times, she did not interact at all, and at other times, she bombarded me with her narratives of her sexual adventure.
Although these relational configurations provided a therapeutic facilitation, there remained undertows of inexplicable hatred that confused and scared me. What unsettled me was not so much the experience of hating Tina, and her I, but what I later recognized to be my own dissociated self-hatred. This hate-hate space (You hate me-I hate you; Grand, 2002) felt like forbidden territory. To acknowledge, even to myself, my hatred toward the patient and, even more intolerable, the hate I felt toward myself when with her was egregious. I believed that I had accepted as part of my analytic approach Winnicott’s admonition (1947) from “Hate in the Countertransference”: “However much he loves his patients he cannot avoid hating them and fearing them, and the better he knows this the less will hate and fear be the motives determining what he does to his patients” (p. 195).
Yet, I was afraid that I would be admitting to what is characteristically looked at in our profession as a taboo: to feel hate toward our patients. Hate, theoretically and relationally, is usually perceived and experienced as being destructive. This treatment taught me, however, that it also conceals love and hope.
Toxic Interactive Patterns
Tina, a 17-year-old heroin junkie, had just returned to psychotherapy after a 3-month disappearance. In the interim, she ran away from home, dropped out of high school, and had been working as a dominatrix. Tina grew up in a contradictory environment where rules and dogma were imposed and retracted unpredictably. In turn, this history has influenced the interchangeable patterns of domination and submission in her relationships.
I first met Tina in 1997. She was admitted to the woman’s day treatment center for eating disorders where I had been working. After her discharge, I continued to see Tina in my private practice, in twice-a-week psychotherapy.
This paper focuses on the third year of Tina’s psychotherapy with me. The treatment was chaotic and inconsistent, disrupted by several hospitalizations for anorexia, bulimia, and drug abuse and by her tenuous and ambivalent connection to me and to the therapy.
It was 7:30 a.m. Tina was my first patient of the day, and I was her “last client of the preceding night.” She entered the office coming directly from the “dungeon” where she worked. The leather and latex were replaced by tight black-satin pants; a low-cut black T-shirt that revealed her stomach; and four-inch stiletto-heeled, knee-high spandex boots. Her face was made up from the night before-deep red lipstick, heavy black mascara, and dramatic eyeliner emphasizing her naturally large dark eyes. Her body was near emaciation, and her long, straight jet-black hair framed the painted face by which she attempted to mask and accentuate her age. Her appearance presented an opposition that jarred me. Beneath the veneer of her overly made-up face was the unwrinkled skin of a teenager. Despite the adult world that she lived in, her eyes reflected fear and confusion. She was like the Britney Spears song “Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman.” She was a girl/woman; she was a victim/victimizer.
In the session, Tina sat on the end of the sofa closest to my chair. She was still in character from the night before, and she confidently displayed an air of dominance. She recounted her evening’s work and how voraciously she enjoyed whipping these men, making them beg and plead, as she continued to incrementally administer more pain, more shame. She looked at me with a piercing, unflinching stare as if to say, “Don’t you dare.” I wondered, dare what? Talk? Move? Breathe or reveal any sign that I exist separate from her and in response to her? Do I not dare cross over a boundary into a space that is hers, mine, ours? Could we both dare to enter or stand in this space (Bromberg, 1998) that could not yet be known? I felt as though I had become the handcuffed patron, the despised and pathetic man, subjugated to degradation and humiliation by her enslavement.
I began to speak, telling Tina how I have been wondering and worrying about her during her disappearance. My words of concern melted her defensive posturing. She began to relax, sinking into the sofa, her gaze softening but averted. She shifted from the pain-administering dominatrix to a meek and scared little girl. Her voice was barely audible. She had become the handcuffed victim, shifting from doer to being done to (Benjamin, 1988). The shifts were rapid, vacillating in and out of awareness for both of us in any given moment. This domination/submission or hater/being-hated enactment was repeated many times in our ongoing treatment.
During and following this session with Tina, I was aware that I was having powerful visceral reactions: tightened jaw, pronounced palpitations in my chest, fluttering in my stomach. I felt empty of thought and overwhelmed with confusion. What undeniably I felt in my body I could not symbolically express in words, even to myself. Was I scared? Guilty? Shamed?
Tina spoke of not caring for or thinking about me or anyone else. Yet her tone was challenging:
Go ahead and show your concern and care; it doesn’t affect me. What you feel and think doesn’t matter to me, and I don’t care how I affect you. I don’t care if you like me or hate me. I don’t care if I piss you off or hurt you. I don’t really think much about you or what you feel.
Then she would describe her sex with her artist boyfriend in his sculpture studio which he had adapted to an “industrial sex workshop.” She detailed the creative use of metal cutters, hooks, pulleys and blowtorches as sexual aides.
Part of me did not want to hear any of this, and yet another part of me was titillated and wanted to hear more. After vanishing for three months, she showed up to tell me that she did not care about me, but then she continued with a powerfully disturbing narration. The obvious subversive qualities of her behavior seemed to cover inchoate parts in both her and me.
Literary critic Elaine Scarry (1985) illustrated how physical pain and torture not only resist language but also actively destroy it. The subject being tortured and in great pain is never more certain of his or her own existence, yet the abuser negates the pain and certainty to carry out the torture. The torturer both denies that the subject is a sentient being and resists identification with the subject. Both subjective and objective experience gets destroyed, and the language of I/subject and me/object no longer has meaning or impact. I believe that, for Tina, her psychic trauma, which I describe shortly, similarly obliterated language and meaningful self-expression. Tina’s sadomasochistic enactments were attempts to locate an annihilated self.
In her early development, Tina lacked a parental environment that could sufficiently provide coherency and a way to begin to think about events, affects, and consequent meaning. She lacked parents who could convey that mental states underlie behavior. Tina’s parents negated their children’s affective and experiential world.
The capacity to reflect, think, and make meaning became disrupted. When one’s own mind or that of the other cannot hold meanings and affects, then the body must hold them. The body becomes the container for self and the site of experience. It is traumatic because self-experience and affects cannot be symbolized. Thus, Tina lived in freeze-frame segments, where behavior has no consequences, affects have no validity, and language has no meaning. Her experience may have negated her affects or rigidly reduced them. Consequently, I believe that Tina grabbed on to the one affect, hatred, that in her family seemed to provide the most coherency and purpose.
When hate becomes the tie that binds or an essential force of vitalization, it becomes the crucial element for psychic survival. Ironically, hatred can even be the most important factor that keeps one from committing suicide (Gabbard, 2000). However, in the analytic situation, the extreme of hatred poses great strain on both participants, who are trying to establish a manner of being with each other and communicating with each other. “When you are hating me and I am hating you,” the reflective space between analyst and patient collapses, leaving both participants destabilized and at a loss to make meaning of their experience. Tina persistently brought me into her life where I could experience the confusion and chaos in order to create a space in which we both could begin to know the unknowable and speak the unspeakable. It was a process that dissolved many times over: we created and destroyed, created and destroyed, ultimately constructing a bearable space so that we could think and feel together.
Tina was certainly not the same girl whom I had been treating for the past two years before her three-month sabbatical. That Tina was soft-spoken, tacit, filling the sessions with quiet tears and faraway gazes. I often wondered if she knew I was there or if she even cared. Either she found me and my voice penetrating the space intrusively, to which she responded with silent contempt, or she resonated with me, which produced immobilizing, quiescent crying. When she experienced me as providing protection, relief, or soothing, she could not hold on to it beyond the session. She devoured me with insatiable hunger, but then she contemptuously purged me as quickly as she had consumed me. Our relationship was like her relationship with food-bulimic. It was never enough, and it was too much. She hated me because I was, what she perceived to be, successful and happy. She hated me because I could not take her home with me. She had fantasies that my husband and I would care for her, as the perfect parental duo. We would provide the loving, caring environment that she felt so deprived of at home. This was her fantasy about family; there was no self and other, only a self-a fragmented unknown self-immersed in a boundlessly caring surround. She demanded absolute attention. The fantasized parents were there only to affirm her. Recognition of these parents would require her to relinquish her claim to absoluteness, compromising her sense of self (Benjamin, 1988). This soon became lived out in the treatment, because I was not limitless. I had set times and set fees. I had other patients. I had a separate life. She felt both deprived and burdensome. She had to not need me. She had to not see me. Yet at the same time, she had to control me omnipotently.
Tina hated her need for the analyst (me) and the analysis. Paradoxically, as intimacy deepened, so did her distrust and hatred. For instance, she would not show up for sessions, but she would then leave 10 messages on my answering machine. Regarding her experience of me, to be fallible was beyond forgiveness, but to be empathic and effective was distrusted and thus equally unforgivable. “I need you to help me, but I need not to need you. I hate you, and I hate that I need you.” She survived by disavowing intolerable memories and by relinquishing desire or expectations that anything good could be hers. The past was to be forgotten, the future dreaded, and the present disintegrated. Her history was unthinkable, and her future could not be imagined.
For a long period in the treatment, any experience of intimacy was negated with acts and expressions of hostility. I witnessed her body become the site of enactment, the gestalt, both externally and internally, for her disowned hatred of self and others. I saw her body cut, burned, purged, starved, and engorged. Through her impulsive, frenetic life, she attempted to keep all feelings of disgust, shame, envy, and hatred dissociated.
I had to survive and not survive Tina’s hateful expressions and behavior. Her experiential and affective functioning was badly damaged. The analytic space became one enactment after another, with no coherency or ability to think, make sense, or construct meaning. And such was the family environment in which she grew up.
Critical Family History
Tina’s family environment was chaotic. Tina was the oldest of three children by six years. Her father-a seductive, sadistic, and domineering lawyer who never made partnership with his law firm-masked his own shame with an arrogant superiority and related in a demeaning way to his wife, children, and colleagues. Tina’s mother was a third-grade school teacher with no adult friends or interests outside of work. Tina portrayed her mother as a pathetic, spineless woman who could not stand up to her father. Her mother’s history was one of grave losses and deprivations. Raised by a schizophrenic mother, Tina’s mother was unable to provide for Tina what she herself never got. She resented her daughter’s needs and was envious and retaliatory. Her parents did not hide their contempt for one another and separated several times in their 20-year marriage. Divorce was a continual threat, one that Tina heard since she was little. As she once humorously stated, “They could write the rule book for living a sadomasochistic relationship.”
Behind the closed doors of Tina’s home, the parents lived completely naked and encouraged their children to do the same. There were no doors on the rooms, including the bathroom. All was bared, even the most private, personal acts of bodily functioning. Penises, vaginas, breasts, urine, vomit, blood were all displayed openly. Tina described how the bathroom was like a “sacred place” and how the family spent the majority of their time “hanging out” there. When she voiced desire for privacy, they ridiculed her and said that she was too sensitive and self-conscious. Outside of the home, the parents maintained a strict morality and sense of social decorum that contrasted sharply with the lack of boundaries at home. This clandestine interior family life confused and shamed Tina. There was no space, intrapsychically or environmentally, for Tina to think about, much less try to understand, the inconsistencies of her life.
Interiority (Slochower, 1999), both psychically and physically for Tina, was denied, disavowed, and minimized, whereas exteriority was controlled and fabricated and both were kept secret from the other.
Tina stated, “Lies feel like the truth. The truth feels more unreal. …What happened, I was told, didn’t, and what didn’t happen, I was told, did. I don’t know any more, I just lie automatically; it’s safer and feels real.”
The feelings that could not be metabolized in her family were left for her alone to try to take in and hold, and try she did, but she was destined to fail, for there was no sane body or mind to connect to; she had to be sane in a crazy world that denied her emotional reality or crazy in a sane world that secured connection. As Fairbairn (1952) characterized it, “it is better to be a sinner in a world ruled by God than to live in a world ruled by the Devil” (pp. 66-67).
Several months after her return to treatment, Tina began coming late, missing appointments, and becoming more vocal and belligerent. She would leave mumbled, inarticulate messages on my machine, often in a crying and despairing nihilistic tone. Sometimes, she left up to 10 messages in a weekend. I began to dread my answering machine. Her behavior in and out of treatment became more and more malignant. Her parents called, disgusted and outraged, enumerating her improprieties:
She didn’t come home last night; she hasn’t been in school for weeks; she stole money from us; she ate all our food then threw it up in our toilet; we found drugs in her bedroom; she is destroying our home; she is destroying us; she is criminal; she is a whore.
Tina insisted that their accusations were all lies: “They’ll say anything to hurt me, to destroy me, and send me away. They hate me.” She defended each transgression with a fantastic rationale or with counteraccusations that they were simply lying to take revenge on her. They claim that she lied; she asserted that they were lying. At times, the parents charged each other with not being completely truthful. The truth became an enigma. Somehow, I was to sort through the facts and lies to find the truth. I was the lawyer hired by the father, the mother, and Tina to defend, to prosecute, to find guilty, to acquit. The truth became a means of exploitation of the other.
Under these pressures, my capacity for self-regulation collapsed; states of affective disorganization led to disintegration of my own feelings of self-cohesiveness and precluded my ability to reflect. My usually clear boundaries began to break down. I found myself taking phone calls from both the mother and the father, who were attempting to dictate the terms of the treatment. I continually felt pulled into role enactments, characterizing either her seductive, sadistic father or her envious, ineffectual mother. I was either dominating or useless. I was drawn into this family in multiple configurations, multiple enactments, and I needed desperately to extricate myself from this entanglement.
I referred the parents and Tina to a family therapist and forbade the parents to call me, excluding emergencies. Phone calls did continue, however, though significantly reduced. I referred the mother to her own therapist after she called in crisis, after one of her many altercations with Tina. She exclaimed, “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I hate my daughter. I can’t stand to look at her.”
All of these adjunctive treatments were short-lived. I was doubtful that I could contain Tina in an outpatient treatment and in a situation where her parents consistently undermined her efforts to separate and be free from being designated as the crazy family member. It was clear that this family needed Tina to remain “sick” and act out all the family’s powerfully disowned anger, envy, shame, and hate. I suggested that Tina go back in-patient to get some of her symptoms under control. She felt completely betrayed and enraged at me and reminded me that she had been in four hospitals and “they don’t work.” My guilt from prohibiting parental contact and my suggestion for Tina to be hospitalized were lessened by my assumption of a professional stance and sound clinical judgment. Although my clinical choices may be appropriate, I know a part of me just wants to be rid of this case and the complex array of aversive feelings I feel toward Tina and myself. She was pushing me to acknowledge those aspects of herself (and myself) that no one has ever given voice to or allowed her to voice.
The transference-countertransference constellations, with their inevitable shifts, are dramatic and exhausting. At times I felt compelled to embrace her, though I never actually did, in her childlike crying as she related how “gross, disgusting, and dirty” she felt internally and about her body. She repeatedly stated that she had no feelings, no interest for anyone or anything other than hatred. At other times, I wanted to smack her when she would disappear with no word and then leave a provocative message on my machine: “I know I’m being shitty; I’m sorry, no really, I’m not sorry. I guess I just wanted to be shitty to you. See you next week.”
Tina showed up for treatment brandishing horrific bruises, burn marks, and cuts from the violent, sadomasochistic relationship with the artist whom she had met at her work (the dungeon). She proudly displayed these wounds as trophies. She told me how they made her feel superior because she could tolerate such pain. Sex had to be painful; tenderness and affection made her feel vulnerable and are not trusted. She never felt love, only an insatiable desire to hurt and be hurt. For a long time, she experienced the therapy and me as such: a painful experience and relationship devoid of affection, only feeling connectedness through hating and being hated.
Tina defiantly regarded her flagrant behavior as being justified, insomuch as it was of her own choice. But, in fact, she was “doing and being done to” with no recognition of the other or the self. Foreclosed was her reflective capacity. All experiences and relationships were felt as isolated, transient moments, coming alive in enactments but deficient of symbolic meaning. Her experiences gave her life in the moment that they were transpiring. Her bulimia, anorexia, and sexual activity were the affective glue that kept all of her parts together. They temporarily filled an unbearable void or an undecipherable chaos. Multiplicity of self and other could not be tolerated. One self-state experience canceled another or was split off and put onto her body or that of the other. Tina suffered in her existence. She suffered within herself and on her own body. She struggled to do and undo, to remember and forget, to embody and disembody what could not be symbolically felt or verbalized.
Intrapsychically, Tina had no continuity of self; she lived in a succession of fragmented, discrete moments with no meaning, no associations or any concern of consequences to self or others.
Tina was tentative about allowing herself space to reflect so that she could develop a capacity to symbolically speak her feelings and give voice to a meaningful sense of self. Much of what she did remained dissociated. She continued to concretize emotions, for to feel them or talk about them was too dangerous. Yet, she made considerable strides. She left the dungeon and the sadomasochistic relationship, stating, “I no longer like to be hurt, but I still can’t love.”
She was more often terrified than angry, although she persisted to display noxious behavior toward parents, friends, and me. She struggled with the dilemma of being known versus keeping herself secret. The lies were still rampant, but I tried to hear the truth in her lies. She vigilantly regulated the intimacy between us, through her lateness, absences, and coming high to sessions. I no longer chased her when she disappeared for several sessions, but I let her know that I would be in the office at our session time. She has begun to develop a rhythm and an expectable pattern with me, although it is still tenuous and she is still distrustful.
Recently, after a two-week absence, she challenged me: “You hate me, don’t you?” Initially, I feel speechless, trapped. What was she asking? What did hate between her and me mean? Should I directly express it? Should I temper it? If I said no, would she feel that I did not care, and if I said yes, would she feel rejected? I know that she expected me to deny my anger and frustration toward her because I was her therapist and I was trained to be patient and understanding, but my patience, understanding, and appreciation of her behavior have had little impact on her. So I replied with love: “Yes. Sometimes I do.”
She smiled warmly.
Beebe and Lachmann (1994; Lachmann and Beebe, 1996) identified three organizing principles to describe how interactions are regulated in a dyadic relationship. They defined ongoing regulations as a principle that “captures the characteristic, expectable pattern of repeated interactions in the treatment situation” (Lachmann and Beebe, 1996, p. 4) and illustrate a shift of emphasis from what is expectable to disruption and repair. I think what happened with Tina was that an expectable pattern of interacting did get violated and needed to be so, because it was perpetuating a rigid belief, namely, that she could do whatever she wanted and I would remain patient and understanding. Although this pattern felt safe to her, she felt ineffectual and uncared for, and, consequently, her provocative behavior continued. The disruption in our relatedness allowed affects to be stated that had been felt in the past and put aside. It opened up a new way of being together, if only for that moment.
The psychoanalytic literature is replete with theoretical paradigms of hatred. Although there is little consensus on how hatred has been conceptualized throughout psychoanalytic history, there remains an indelible linking of hatred with destruction. This is most notable in Kleinian theory (1937), where hate and destructiveness, inevitable within the mother-infant dyad in early development, need to be transformed or neutralized through mechanisms of projective identification. This emphasis and overdetermination too often occlude our patients’ fundamental strivings for growth and healing and their deep longing to know and be known by the other.
I do not wish to sanitize the intense affects or the destructive potentiality imbued with hatred and hating but rather that we hear beyond the expressive hate of our patients and allow ourselves to bear this affect so that we hear the muffled vulnerable voices of love and hope.
Winnicott (1947) attempted to normalize hate. He stated that hate and fear inevitably coexist with love in all human relating. He accounted not only for the hate that is engendered by certain patients (he was writing about treatment with psychotics) but also for the maternal hate that exists before the baby is even born, or the analyst’s hate that exists before the patient even arrives for treatment. What Winnicott addressed in his paper was not just the hate that the patient is feeling and communicating and how the analyst contains or regulates this hate but also the hate felt and benignly expressed by the analyst. “Like the mother,” Winnicott asserted, “the analyst must be prepared to bear strain without expecting the patient to know anything about what he is doing. …To do this he must be easily aware of his own fear and hate” (p. 198).
Winnicott was not referring to hatred as a derivative of an aggressive drive needing discharge (Freud, 1915) or as a manifestation of the death instinct (Freud, 1923), nor was he conceptualizing it as a result of projective identification in the Kleinian sense or as a response to empathie failures that disintegrate self-cohesion (Kohut, 1972). What I believe Winnicott was describing, which he identified as objective counter transference, was a complex array of affects, including hate, that exist in all relationships and how certain people (or patients) provoke, by their way of connecting or relating, the other (analyst) to acknowledge their own aversive feelings.
Slavin and Kriegman (1998) elaborated Winnicott’s idea that hate and fear are central to human relating; they saw it as “a universal dialectic between all individuals and the relational world” (p. 252). Slavin (2000) developed this theme, based on his ideas of adaptation, using an evolutionary biological perspective. The author saw the hate in the analytic situation, or in any intimate relationship between two individuals, as being inherent, universal tensions and conflicts of interest. He identified this conflict of interest in the analytic situation as that between the analyst’s identity and agenda and the patient’s psychic developmental needs and interest. Slavin believed that a crucial element in the treatment is that the analyst acknowledge these conflicts and the real danger that they present in the analysis.
In my discussion of Tina’s treatment, I expand these theories (Winnicott, 1947; Slavin and Kriegman, 1998; Slavin, 2000) by emphasizing the intensity and exclusivity of hate. For Tina, and other patients for whom hate is the predominant affect in relating, expressions of hatred are more than a defensive protection from feeling vulnerable. They are an attempt to develop modes of attachment, relating and self-regulating, integral to one’s sense of self.
This suggests some thoughts and questions regarding the manifestation of hate and how we may understand hatred in terms of a reflective capacity-what Fonagy and Target (1998) called mentalization-and a mode of connection. To a considerable extent, analysis and analytic theories are based on one’s capacity to reflect, make meaning, find coherency. But for patients like Tina, how do these capacities come to threaten the continuity of being for self and other? How does mentalization stop and start, carry hope and despair, or become creative or destructive? When does reflection itself become dangerous? And how do we connect to those places in our patients where they wish to do harm to self and to others?
Mentalization is the capacity to reflect on one’s own and other people’s thoughts and feelings (Fonagy, Gergely, Jurist, and Target, 2002). Essential to Fonagy et al.’s theory of mind was that the developing child be able to locate herself or himeself in the minds of her or his caregivers as a propositional (beliefs) and intentional (desires) self. Tina’s contradictory and unpredictable family environment greatly compromised her reflective functioning. Her ability to symbolize thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of self and other remained undeveloped and manifested in rigid unverbalized patterns of behavior. Tina’s enactments and sadistic hatred became her attempt to mentalize, to develop an intentional self. Although, many times, her hatred displayed a deadening concretization, at other times I experienced it as a robust effort at creative symbolization. Because she was at the mercy of her parents’ own mental disorganization-where the fate of love was perverse, dangerous, and unusable-she attempted to develop a subjectivity, a sense of meaning and coherency, through hating. Love destroyed her self and the other, but hate reconstructed her bonds to those she needed, sustaining her connections with others throughout her life. Tina was not completely unref lective in her hating, but what she did foreclose were emergent pathways to a broad range of experience, meaning, and affects.
For Tina, love was submission, untrue. Loving and being loved was her parents’ perverted connection. Hating was her attempt at being known and knowing, her trial at discovering and being discovered, and her effort to feel authentic and alive. Ghent (1990) described sadism as one’s desire to be known and longing to be found, “a wish to discover the reality of the other; the desire to deeply know, penetrate, discover the other and thereby experience the self” (p. 228). In his seminal paper on surrender, he delineated the emergence of sadism resulting from perversion of object usage (Winnicott, 1969).
Because Tina did not fully exist in the minds of her parents or others, hate was her way to register somewhere as subject or object. Her sadomasochistic behavior with me and, more dramatically, in her sexual life was her bid to experience self as both subject and object in order to know herself as an intentional thinking subject and an knowable observable object.
Tina stated, “I want to take you to places that words can’t take you.” I replied, “I think you have taken me to many places: some spoken, others felt, and some we have yet to know.” I then added, “You know this both excites and scares me, exciting because I think how wonderful some of these places may be and afraid of how awful others might be.” After a short pause, she responded, “Well, we’ve been in some horrible places, and we’re still here.” I smiled appreciatively, recognizing in this statement how both she and I have survived. There was a longer pause. She then bluntly stated, “I need you to hate me so I can find me.”
Tina was unable to articulate what she meant by this last statement. She “just felt that way.” What I recognized in this declaration, which I left unspoken, was that she was articulating a need. Although she was not ready to love, she was saying that she needed to feel connected, safe, and recognized in her wholeness, including her hateful parts. But right now, the only way that she could secure this was through her hatred and through my acknowledging my hatred toward her, at least to myself.