Saturday, January 6, 2007

Cognitions of a psychoanalyst: Bernalisms, Fragment I.

This is a piecemeal book review by Nestor Jose Galarza Diaz, MD, a disciple of
Victor Bernal y del Rio. Y. Bernalerias Y. Literatura de lo absurdo, Ediciones Suenos, 2005, 265 pages.

Book published December 2005
Author died December 28, 2006

I got this remarkable book, written in Spanish, at Borders in Plaza las Americas, Hato Rey, Puerto Rico after Dr Bernal’s death on December 28, 2006 and perhaps to maintain an ongoing relationship with him and his thinking, and avoid a prolonged mourning and the unavoidable sense of loss and melancholia. The publication of this book is a landmark in the history of Puerto Rican psychiatry.

The setting of the book is a 35 X 100 mile island in the Caribbean, where no novels only short stories can be written because of size limitations. So Dr. Bernal wrote short stories for us. The book is meant to challenge the passage of time and partly reaches to the future or wishes to be unlimited by the passage of time. It is a collection of thoughts and “thoughts have no consequences, acts do….. Thoughts represent wishes…..Wishes have no limits, no dimensions, time schedules, dates, no compassion nor justice”, Bernal y del Rio, page 13.

The author addresses all kinds of defense mechanisms with the apparent motive that readers understand basic psychology of the unconscious and the subconscious. You can imagine, notice or see narcissim, projection, displacement, denial, introjection, altruism, etc. The educational motive of the professor is still there, posthumously. You can also learn about psychopathology and about the psychology of the author.

You can imagine the author standing with one foot in psychiatry, purportedly because of his 51 years as member of the American Psychiatric Association and one foot in his unrelenting support of the mentally ill, purportedly with his longstanding support of the National Alliance for Mental Illness.

Chapters I and II.
Being a study on the author himself and his style of thinking, on purpose I will comment only at the end of this review.

Chapter III
A No-star general represents a study on narcissism, obsessive sexual desires and rituals appropriate to people who suffer from heterosexual addictions. When you read it, you let me know if you agree.

Chapter IV
The Alchemist for the third millennium seems to rehash the theme of the elegant psychotic nationalist in Puerto Rico, remindful of Don Quixote, the epic story from Spain. Here you learn about a practical delusion and how a person can survive and continue to weave his life around a fixed illogical idea about himself and his mission. Also how others, including the family, laugh at the deluded. Is this meant to address present day stigmatization of the mentally ill?