Inspirational Reminders To Sensitive Discipline


Discipline is compassionate correction. Such strategies include constructive incentives understandable to a child. These approaches at times include temporarily withdrawing positive attention, such as ignoring a child acting out or temporarily using a ’time out’. Discipline may involve parental assertion strategies that include withdrawal of privileges and behavioral rewards or judicious reprimands to achieve a desired response (imposing penalties for non-compliance such as suspension of privileges like participation in a desirable activity in lieu for a discussion about the wrongful action.)

Thoughtful, effective discipline is neither punishment nor aggression. It is not punitive, heavy-handed, or sadistic in reprimand. Healthy discipline is not mindless authoritarian control. Harsh scolding is unhelpful and may be traumatic to a child, particularly over time. Nagging, threatening, endless explanations, yelling, and harsh punishments are all ineffective. In fact, adult attention to misbehaviors, if done repetitively and without concurrent constructive learning interventions, powerfully reinforces “bad”, unhelpful and undesirable behaviors. Children crave attention from their caregivers and may learn to act out to receive even negative attention.

“Experts who study child neglect and maltreatment agree that corporal punishment is intergenerational, so adults who were subjected to this form of discipline come to believe that it is acceptable. They use corporal punishment to discipline their own children, which reflects the learning from modeling achieved by living example.”

“Many parents regard the “terrible twos” and “trying threes” as chronological eras wherein spanking is often used to control undesirable behaviors, typically aggressive such as biting a sibling, or grabbing a toy away from another child. This strategy is counterproductive since it backfires into even greater unruliness.”

Yet, parents find it difficult to restrain themselves from this approach. In documented studies, about 66 percent of parents of very young children ages one and two years reported using physical punishment. By the time children reach fifth grade, 80 percent have been physically punished. By high school, 85 percent of adolescents report that they have been physically punished, with 51 percent reporting they have been hit with a belt or similar object.

Although research findings show corporal punishment use across the socioeconomic spectrum, its frequency and intensity appear elevated among less educated and disadvantaged persons.

“Yelling is one form of aggression. Yelling when a child misbehaves frightens the child and elicits defensiveness. These feelings and attitudes are not conducive to redirection and learning more desirable behaviors. When parents model aggression, children learn to use it to deal with parents, siblings, peers, and others. Inordinate exposure to force and violence causes habituation, tolerance, and insensitivity to violence.”

“Habituation is an important form of learning in which a stimulus that is experienced too frequently ceases to produce the initial effect it first had elicited. Violence and aggression seen and felt too often cause a dulling of the emotions of horror, disdain, and repulsion. This tendency often extends into adulthood and perpetuates adolescent and adult aggression. Studies show that children who are spanked become more aggressive even by age two years. Most research shows that between 60 and 70 percent of child abuse begins as harsh spanking and progresses to even greater violence and maltreatment.”

“Remembering that impulse control has a developmental trajectory that differs in infancy and different eras in childhood and adolescence are essential.”

“In reading Sigmund Freud’s “A Child Is Being Beaten” the inter-relationship between parent and child and the sequence of the three developmental phases of the beating-phantasy become apparent in the childhood trajectory from 2 to 5 years of age. Freud postulated the child goes through 3 developmental phases from 2 to 5 years in which the witnessing of another child being beaten is incorporated into the psychic life of the child.”

Concrete Strategies to Support Pro-social Skills:

(1) Modeling, or setting an example through behavior;
(2) Cueing, or prompting children to use pro-social skills
(3) Coaching, or direct instructions about how to prepare and then use skills
(4) Positive Reinforcement, or recognizing and verbalizing children’s attempts and successes at using pro-social skills
(5) Non-judgmental Statements, or avoiding emphasizing negative statements about children and others;
(6) Role Playing, or creating a safe environment in which to learn and practice pro-social skills, and
(7) Direct Feedback, or asking children for their perspective and notably what could have been done better to improve the problematic situation.

“The parental mood accompanying such “learning moments” is most effective when it is sober, firm, and warm – not caustic, frightening, violent, or aggressive. Such a tone averts fear and unnecessary shame, allowing children to learn more effectively. Effective discipline avoids humiliation, embarrassment, and dehumanization. Using sensitivity and tact is always beneficial.”

“This approach prevents trauma – the feeling of being abused and tortured – to both child and parent. The child’s dignity and self-worth are thus preserved. Effective discipline includes a calm, firm, decisive tone of voice. Such a disciplinary style fosters increased motivation for cooperation and enhanced receptivity for improvement.”

“Validation of Feelings. This strategy is sometimes called a “validation of feelings.” Accepting the verbal expression of feelings and helping children to articulate the feelings behind behaviors are part of a corrective redirection showing warmth and tolerance. Identifying core feelings in words, then describing the behavioral action in terms such as “bad, which means unhelpful,” unsafe, risky, unkind, and so forth, and why they are unhelpful, allows everyone to pause and step back.”

“Corrective Redirection Embedded in Nurturance and Living Example. This positive approach to child guidance is an engaging inducement reflecting team effort rather than authoritarian control. Forceful imposition and harsh indoctrination are counterproductive, if not traumatic. Perpetually maintaining attitudes and operating principles whose underlying premise is teamwork works best.”

“Relationships and emotional processes support the growth of the mind. These influence how learning occurs and what is learned. Emotional intelligence is enhanced. The fruits that gradually mature in adolescence and adulthood include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. Focusing on good behaviors optimizes success. Starting from day one is essential. Children and adolescents remain open to positive feedback at all points in their development.”



Psychology Today – Discipline, Nurturance, or Living Example: Which Works Best?


“Nurturance, discipline, and living example  make up successful parenting. They are superordinate with details that add color and tone. Nurturance emphasizes affectionate caregiving. Discipline emphasizes the way parents teach desirable behaviors and respond to misbehaviors. Living example incorporates both nurturance and discipline as models for children to emulate. Each is vital. All are optimized when acting harmoniously. This dynamic interaction empowers this scaffolding to produce effective outcomes.”

The following link connects to a published article which discusses the proper parental approach to rearing children.

Discipline, Nurturance, or Living Example: Which Works Best?

Group Identity; Neuroscience Studies Prove Racism and Prejudice Are Hard-Wired In The Brain

Officer in the Spokane Police Department, including Nick Briggs, develop their skills with the Counter Bias Training Simulator at Washington State University in Spokane. Realistic simulations train officers to use real clues – not stereotypes – when deciding whether or not to use deadly force.

I am a Leopard. Jay Van Bavel, a neuroscientist at New York University who studies group identity, gave me that label last summer when I was lying in a fMRI scanner near his office. While in the machine I was shown photos of faces – 12 young white men and 12 young black men. The scanner tracked by brain’s activity as I connected these individuals to group identities. Having been raised in the United States, I have lived with my country’s racial categories all my life, and it wasn’t difficult to do one of my experimental tasks: classify each face according to its skin color as either black or white. However, I also had to work with another set of categories. The men in the photos were on one of two teams, I was told: Tigers and Leopards. The screen told me who was on which team and drilled me on the details until I had it down. But I wasn’t a neutral observer: I’d been told that I was a Leopard.

My scanner tasks (based on an experiment Van Bavel and his colleagues conducted in 2008) allowed Van Bavel to compare my brain’s activity as it worked, first with a familiar and consequential group identity (race in America) and then with a group identity that was effectively meaningless.

Like the brains in the actual experiment, mine lit up differently depending on whether I perceived an in-group face (for me, a Leopards team member) or an out-group (Tiger) face. For example, my orbit frontal cortex, a brain region associated with liking, sparked up more when I saw a face from my in-group. So did the fusiform gyrus, a region tied to processing the identity of faces.

The experiment – and dozens of others like it during the past 20 years – confirmed several important facts about exactly how the human brain is “identity crazed.” The scans show, for one, that a lot of our perceptions and emotions about groups happen outside our awareness or control. I have no conscious preference for white people over black people. On the contrary, like most Americans, I abhor racism. Yet, had I not been told I was a Leopard, I almost certainly would have shown an unconscious preference for white faces over black ones. That I did not illustrates a different important finding in Van Bavel’s research: New team identities can easily supplant old ones in our minds. All Van Bavel had to do was tell me about two teams and inform me that I was on one. That was enough for my brain to prefer Leopards over Tigers as quickly and strongly as it normally distinguished black and whites.

The scans reflected a key fact about human groupishness: We have keen mental radar that seeks to learn what groups matter around us and which ones we are members of. And this radar is always on. Even as we sit comfortably in our racial, religious, national, and other identities, our minds are alert to the possibility of new coalitions.

It’s not hard to see why humans should have evolved to care about their teams and their place on those teams. Relying on each other is a sound survival strategy for a frail, noisy creature without a lot of guilt-in weapons. Living in groups is a ticket to survival, which is why most primates live in them. In fact, there is no human society without clear lines that distinguish various groups.

“This is how person perception generally works,” Van Bavel told me. “In the first split second, we judge people on the basis of their group memberships.” Caring about your group memberships isn’t something you have to learn, like reading or driving. It’s something you do automatically, like breathing.

In fact, much of our sensitivity to groups begins long before we can speak. Very young babies prefer adults who look like their caretakers over adults who look different; some evidence shows they also prefer the foods their mother’s ate while pregnant or breastfeeding over novel ones, and they like the sound of the language they heard in the womb and early in life much better than an alien tongue. These preferences continue. In adulthood most of us are better at recognizing the faces and reading the emotions of people who look and act like us.

“It’s a common misfortune around the world: People get along well enough for decades, even centuries, across lines of race or religion or culture. Then, suddenly, the neighbors aren’t people you respect, invite to dinner, trade favors with, or marry. Those once familiar faces are now Them, the Enemy, the Other. And in that clash of groups, individuality vanishes and empathy dries up, as does trust.”

Psychologists have long established how remarkably easy it is to awaken our tribal minds. In a classic experiment conducted in 1954, for example, researches from the University of Oklahoma made and unmade two warring tribes out of 22 local boys. All were sixth graders, came from similar neighborhoods, and were white. Divided into two groups and bused separately to Robbers Cave State Park, the kids were turned loose with just a few guidelines from the experimenters. Each group soon set itself up with a bunkhouse and a swimming hole, gave itself a name, and established norms (one, the Rattlers, cursed a blue streak, while their rivals, the Eagles, prided themselves on clean language). Then, a week in, each tribe discovered the other.

“Only humans — could decide they are no longer countrymen, after peacefully sharing a homeland for centuries. Only humans can switch from feeling united as one American nation to feeling divided between conservative red states and liberal blue ones. Our capacity to change our perceptions also offers some home, because it permits people to shift in the direction of more inclusion, more justice, more peace.”

Within days they were at war – raiding each other’s bunkhouses and eating only with members of their own group. Baseball games and other competitions turned into exchanges of insults. Angry talk about “those n***** campers” and “communists” and “sissies” escalated. Then, in the third week of the camp, the experimenters faked some challenges (pulling a disabled truck, unpacking food delivered in crates) that forced the Rattlers and Eagles to work together. The experience of cooperating toward a common goal united them, by the end of the three-week camp, the boys were singing “The Star Spangled Banner” together and letting bygones be bygones.

As the Robbers Cave experiment illustrated, human beings can shift their group perceptions in both directions. Sometimes we turn Us into Them. But we can also turn Them into Us.

National Geographic Magazine Website

Excerpt from the April 2018 National Geographic Magazine Issue “Black and White.” To read further please refer to the article “The Things That Divide Us” by David Berreby; Photographs by John Stanmeyer (magazine link featured above) found on pages 46-67 of the hard copy issue. Click on the website article entitled ““Why Do We See So Many Things as ‘Us vs. Them’?”

Psychology Today – Can Effective Parenting Really Counter and Transform Bad Outcomes In Caregiving?

Psychological effects on child when parents fight-201705130208354592.jpg

“Nurturance, discipline, and living example are the three fundamental factors that make up successful parenting. They counter destructive child treatment, and make the odds of  “beating” negligible to non-existent. These global factors are superordinate since most other details of parenting can be subsumed therein. Nurturance emphasizes caregivingdisciplineemphasizes the way parents teach desirable behaviors and respond to misbehaviors; and living example incorporates both nurturance and discipline as models for children to emulate. Each component in this model of the scaffolding of parenting is vital and essential. All are optimized when they interact harmoniously with their companions. This dynamic collaboration empowers the parenting scaffolding to produce effective outcomes.”

Psychology Today – “A Child Is Being Beaten – Ever or Never?”

Some Interesting Facts Gleaned From Sigmund Freud’s “A Child Is Being Beaten”

Psychological Effects on children

“If the sexual component which has broken loose prematurely is the sadistic one, then we may expect, on the basis of knowledge derived from other sources, that a disposition to an obsessional neurosis will result from its subsequent repression. This expectation cannot be said to be contradicted by the results of inquiry.”

“The present state of our knowledge would allow us to make our way so far and no farther towards the comprehension of beating-phantasies. But in the mind of the analytical physician there remains an uneasy suspicion that this is not a final solution of the problem. He is obliged to admit to himself that to a great extent these phantasies subsist apart from the rest of the content of the neurosis, and find no proper place in its structure. But impressions of this kind, as I know from my own experience, are only too easily put on one side.”

“…genuine psycho-analysis [can work] only when it has succeeded in removing the amnesia which conceals from the adult his knowledge of his childhood from its beginning (that is, from about the second to the fifth year [2-5 years of age and I think Freud is referring to implicit memories here or memories that lie latent in the subconscious]. This cannot be said among analysts too emphatically or repeated too often.”

sisters arms folded angry looking at other“In the years of childhood between the ages of two and four or five that the congenital libidinal factors are first awakened by actual experiences and become attached to certain complexes. The beating-phantasies which are now under discussion show themselves only towards the end of this period or after its termination. So it may quite well be that they have an earlier history, that they go through a process of development, that they represent an end-product and not an initial manifestation.”

“The suspicion is confirmed by analysis. A systematic application of it shows that beating-phantasies have an historical development which is by no means simple, and in the course of which they are changed in most prospects more than once — as regards their relation to the author of the phantasy, and as regards their object, their content, and their significance.”

“The first phase of beating-phantasies among girls must therefore belong to a very early period of childhood. The child being beaten is never the one producing the phantasy, but is invariably another child, most often a brother or a sister if there is any.”

“The actual identity of the person beating remains obscure at first. Only this much can be established: it is not a child but an adult. Later on this indeterminate grown-up person becomes recognizable clearly and unambiguously as the (girl’s) father.”

“This first phase of the beating-phantasy is therefore completely represented by the phrase: ‘My father is beating the child’. I am betraying a great deal of what is to be brought forward later when instead of this I say: ‘My father is beating the child whom I hate’. Moreover, one may hesitate to say whether the characteristics of a ‘phantasy’ can yet be ascribed to this first step towards the later beating-phantasy. It is perhaps rather a question of recollections of events which have been witnessed, or of desires which have arisen on various occasions. But these doubts are of no importance.

Profound transformations have taken place between this first phase and the next. It is true that the person beating remains the same (that is, the father); but the child who is beaten has been changed into another one and is now invariably the child producing the phantasy. The phantasy is accompanied by a high degree of pleasure, and has now acquired a significant content, with the origin of which we shall be concerned later. Now, therefore, the wording runs: ‘I am being beaten by my father’. It is of an unmistakably masochistic character.

This second phase is the most important and the most momentous of all. But we may say of it in a certain sense that it has never had a real existence. It is never remembered, it has never succeeded in becoming conscious. It is a construction of analysis, but it is no less a necessity on that account.

The third phase once more resembles the first. It has the wording which is familiar to us from the patient’s statement. The person beating is never the father, but is either left undetermined just as in the first phase, or turns in a characteristic way into a representative of the father, such as a teacher. The figure of the child who is producing the beating-phantasy no longer itself appears in it. In reply to pressing inquiries the patients only declare: ‘I am probably looking on’. Instead of the one child that is being beaten, there are now a number of children present as a rule. Most frequently it is boys who are being beaten (in girls’ phantasies), but none of them is personally known to the subject. The situation of being beaten, which was originally simple and monotonous, may go through the most complicated alterations and elaborations; and punishments and humiliations of another kind may be substituted for the beating itself. But the essential characteristic which distinguishes even the simplest phantasies of this phase from those of the first, and which establishes the connection with the intermediate phases, is this: the phantasy now has strong and unambiguous sexual excitement attachment to it, and so provides, a means for onanistic gratification (excitation of the genitals). But this is precisely what is puzzling. By what path has the phantasy of strange and unknown boys being beaten (a phantasy which has by this time become sadistic) found its way into the permanent possession of the little girl’s libidinal tendencies?

Nor can we conceal from ourselves that the inter-relations and sequence of the three phases of the beating-phantasy, as well as all its other peculiarities have so far remained quite unintelligible.

If the analysis is traced through the early period to which the beating-phantasies are referred and from which they are recollected, it shows us the child involved in the agitations of its parental complex.

The affections of the little girl are fixed upon her father, who has probably done all he could to win her love, and in this way has sown the seeds of an attitude of hatred and rivalry towards her mother. This attitude exists side by side with a current of affectionate dependence upon her, and as years go on it may be destined to come into consciousness more and more clearly and forcibly, or to give an impetus to an excessive reaction of devotion to her. But it is not with the girl’s relation to her mother that the beating-phantasy is connected. There are other children in the nursery, only a few years older or younger, who are disliked on all sorts of other grounds, but chiefly because the parents’ love has to be shared with them, and for this reason they are repulsed with all the wild energy characteristic of the emotional life of those years. If it is a younger brother or sister (as in three of my four cases) it is despised as well as hated; yet it attracts to itself the share of affection which the blinded parents are always ready to give to the youngest child, and this is a spectacle the sight of which cannot be avoided. One soon learns that being beaten, even if it does not hurt very much, signifies a deprivation of love and a humiliation. And many children who believed themselves securely enthroned in the unshakable affection of their parents have by a single blow been cast down from all the heavens of their imaginary omnipotence. The idea of the father beating this hateful child is therefore an agreeable one, quite apart from whether he has actually been seen doing it. It means: ‘My father does not love this other child, he loves only me’.

This then is the content and meaning of the beating-phantasy in its first phase. The phantasy obviously gratifies the child’s jealousy and is dependent upon the erotic side of its life, but it is also powerfully reinforced by its egoistic interest (narcissism). It remains doubtful, therefore, whether it ought to be described as purely “sexual”, nor can one venture to call it “sadistic”. As is well known, all the signs upon which we are accustomed to base our distinctions tend to melt as we come nearer to the source. So perhaps we may say in words like those of the promise given by the three Witches to Banquo: “Not clearly sexual, not in itself sadistic, but yet the stuff from which both will later come”. In any case, however, there is no ground for suspecting that in this first phase the phantasy is already at the service of an excitement which involves the genitals and finds its outlet in an onanistic act.

It is clear that the sexual life of the child has reached the stage of genital organization, now that its incestuous love has achieved this premature object-choice. This can be demonstrated more easily in the case of boys, but is also indisputable in the case of girls.”

“A Child Is Being Beaten” by Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud “The Dream Work”

The Apple Tree
“The Apple Tree” by Andrey Bobir


“Every attempt that has hitherto been made to solve the problem of dreams has dealt directly with their manifest content as it is presented in our memory . . . We are alone in taking something else into account. We have introduced a new class of psychical material between the manifest content of dreams and the conclusions of our inquiry; namely their latent content, or (as we say) the “dream thoughts” arrived at by means of our procedure. It is from these dream thoughts and not from a dream’s manifest content that we disentangle its meaning. We are thus presented with a new task, that is, of investigating the relations between the manifest content of dreams and the latent dream thoughts, and of tracing out the processes by which the latter have been changed into the former.”


*Subnote: “The Apple Tree” by Andrey Bobir is a surrealistic interpretation of man’s parthenogenic wish found in the splitting of the paranoid position of the male imaginary. The phallic castration of “halving” the maternal order into two by actual “splitting” into “good” and “bad” parts, and herein represented as the symbolic representation of the female imaginary, (the half of the apple’s ovule shown here as the “good” maternal breast / the “bad” half not shown) and, spontaneously sprouting life on man’s own without the need for female procreation. The seedling “trunk” is symbolic of the penis and phallic power of the paternal order; the father. The apple’s ovule is used as a vehicle by way of ingestion (consumption, use, and incorporation of nutrients) and, in that way, “The Apple”, in a sense, gives birth to itself (shown here, as the stem of the “good” half is connected to the trunk; the phallic penis).

The Assassination of Johnny Versace; An American Crime Story


“In . . . . phantasy . . .the wish makes use of an occasion in the present to construct, on the pattern of the past, a picture of the future.” ~Sigmund Freud

In watching the FX television series on the death of Johnny Versace and the life of Andrew Cunanan, Versace’s killer’s story parallels the life and times of Jerzy Kozinski. Both had to master the challenges of being accepted into an otherwise unforgiving environment. Jerzy Kosinski had to conceal his true identity when navigate his way through World War II Nazi Germany. Kozinski was a Jew and it was his gift of gab in telling the most amazing stories, he was also a pathological liar like Andrew, he was able to survive. This skill helped him to survive and escape German prosecution. While Cunanan on the other hand, had to “live up” to his father’s expectations and be accepted into an academic environment where prestige, wealth, and image depended on “fitting in.“ Andrew’s father, Modesto Cunanan, would not accept mediocrity from his son. He’s father perceptions of the young Andrew was that he was too beautiful and far too intelligent not to become something important. Where Andrew had learned the gift of pathological lying from his father, Kozinski had learned it as a way of survival and to “fit in“ to an environment that would reject his true identity. Both men carried out an unconscious fantasy life of the romance fantasy scenario called “not in the family.”

Romance fantasies are one type of unconscious fantasy in which this type of fantasy aids the child in dealing with a range of developmental tasks, including disillusionment, reconciliation of love and hate, separation, and the renunciation of oedipal objects. The inability to relinquish the promise of the family romance shapes a detachment from one’s biological family as well as a perpetual search for an ideal substitute family in one’s current relationships. Both Jerzy Kosinski and Andrew Cunanan were looking for parental substitutes to take care of them. Jerzy Kosinski became attracted to, and interested in older wealthy women. Women who could take the place of the maternal order in the symbolic space of early childhood development. While Andrew Cunanan, on the other hand, was a homosexual who was attracted to and interested in older wealthy men who could take the place of the paternal order in the symbolic space of early childhood development.

Both men endured the harsh reality of environmental violence. Jerzy Kosinski had to endure the harsh unkind and unloving environment of a genocidal father figure, Adolf Hitler, during a time of war. While Andrew Cunanan had to endure the harsh unkind unloving environment of a narcissistic tyrannical father, who was emotionally detached as well as physically abusive. And while Jerzy Koskinski never became homicidal, they both ended their lives prematurely by suicide.

“In addition to regarding trauma as “single, acute, shock like experiences”, the more recent literature on trauma has considered the child’s vulnerabilities and ego endowment as well as the context and chronicity of disruptive early experience and relationships. Blum (Panel, 1978) emphasizes that trauma must be distinguished from conflict. He says, “it is not suggested that fantasized or actual witnessing or overhearing parental intercourse would of necessity be traumatic” (p. 141). Similarly, Esman (1973) emphasizes the impact of the parents’ day-to-day behavior on the child and refers to specific cases in which the child’s sadistic concept of the primal scene is directly linked to audible fighting and bickering between the parents. Edelheit (1967) also argued that it is not the primal scene that is traumatic, but events surrounding it. Likewise, Kohut (1977) downplayed the child’s witnessing the primal scene as pathogenic by definition; he emphasizes instead the parents’ personalities and the atmosphere in which the child grows up.”

Because I have already wrote about Jerzy Kosinski’s life in previous posts, in this posting I’m focusing on the profile of Andrew Cunanan. I’d like to quote from “Relationality: From Attachment to Intersubjectivity” by Stephen A. Mitchell (2000):

“For life to meaningful, vital, and robust, fantasy and reality cannot be too divorced from each other. Fantasy cut adrift from realty becomes irrelevant and threatening. Reality cut adrift from fantasy becomes vapid and empty. Meaning in human experience is generated in the mutual, dialectically enriching tension between fantasy and reality; each requires the both to come alive . . . For Loewald, only the enchanted life is a life worth living.”

When Andrew Cunanan’s father was caught misappropriating $106,000.00 and fled the country to Manila, he not only failed society in the fiduciary duties he had assumed to his clients and the community but he also failed his son in a major way. Made to believe that the material possessions you own are those things that define you, Andrew must have felt like a nobody set adrift after Modesto‘s fall. The magnificent lie Andrew was living collapsed in a matter of hours and Andrew Cunanan must have been left feeling like he had been betrayed by a father who had literally idolized him. Andrew was not only lied to by his father, but Andrew Cunanan was his father’s idol set-up on a pedestal, made to believe in his self-inflated importance and future magnificence, only to be left to fall to the bottom and recognize the “lesser than, have-not“ side of living. The bitter hate and hurt Andrew now carried in him, made him feel hostile toward men who must of represented to him the very man he now despised. His victims acted as a vehicle of discharge for the anger, pain, and hate of having to realize the insignificance of one’s own self-worth and to now realize and accept his relatively ordinary existence.

Now let us consider how we understand the position that unconscious fantasies are ubiquitous, complex psychic phenomena that combine cognition and affect, wishes and defenses, self- and object representations and identifications. All these older men became surrogates that represented Modesto Cunanan. It is not clear, but I would venture to say that Andrew may have experienced a hard time in stopping his serial killing surrogacy had he not taken his own life.

“These experiences and fantasies exist throughout life; one marker includes the Oedipus complex, and later reenactments occur during adolescence, marriage, first child, and so on. It is clear that such fantasies manifest themselves differently at different ages owing to changes that take place in cognitive and affective development.”

The infantile primal rage Andrew had inside him manifested as the dereliction and abandonment of his most important figure; his father. This major dereliction now manifested to unconscious castration fantasy at “pay back” and resentment toward men who represented the class, status, and wealth of the wealthy older men in society. It’s not important that these surrogate men actually possess these character traits, it is only enough that Andrew perceive them as such.

For Andrew Cunanan, the primal scene fantasies which dominate his personal relationships beckons to the “special relationship he had with his father.” The clinical material that colored the transference in Andrew’s case took shape in interesting and challenging ways; Andrew’s homosexuality. Andrew’s actions demonstrate the primal scene fantasy, and reveal the intolerable narcissistic loss of omnipotence associated with his acceptance of parental authority; the exclusion and dereliction form the primal scene, his father.

These three unconscious fantasies; primal scene fantasies, family romance fantasies, castration fantasies shaped Andrew Cunanan’s life in very important and specific ways.

“Unconscious fantasies can serve defensive purpose and become embedded in symptom formation, repetitive behaviors, and object choices, including transference manifestations. Similarly, understanding how unconscious fantasies are presented and worked through in artistic production both widens and deepens our aesthetic response to them as well as our own clinical sensibilities.”