Friday, July 24, 2009

Emotional Immaturity Masculine Protest Syndrome

From Bierer (1976).

I have just discovered a treasure trove of surprising stupefying psychoanalytic articles that appeared in the International Journal of Social Psychiatry from 1976-1980. They were written by Austrian psychiatrist Joshua Bierer, M.D., F.R.C.PSYCH., D.ECON. & SOC.SC. (VIENNA), DIP.INDIV.PSYCH.

The Jun. 23, 1961 issue of Time magazine described Dr. Bierer as a proponent of tearing down mental hospitals:
Hospitals Without Locks

In Western countries, mental hospitals are big and numerous—yet crowded beyond capacity; they cost too much—yet cannot get enough psychiatrists to staff them. The solution to these paradoxes, says British Psychiatrist Joshua Bierer: tear down most of the hospitals.

With a prophet's zeal, the modern Joshua who wants the walls to come tumbling down has preached his doctrine more than 120 times in the last three months to hundreds of U.S. and Canadian psychiatrists and mental health workers. Many of his hearers sputtered, "You don't really mean it!" But Dr. Bierer does. He seriously proposes the wiping out of most of the present mental hospitals, and certainly the big ones where patients are kept round the clock for months and years.
Dr. Bierer ran the Marlborough Day Hospital in London, which was part of the therapeutic community movement. According to Campling (2001),
The term ‘therapeutic community’ is usually used in the UK to describe small cohesive communities where patients (often referred to as residents) have a significant involvement in decision-making and the practicalities of running the unit. Based on ideas of collective responsibility, citizenship and empowerment, therapeutic communities are deliberately structured in a way that encourages personal responsibility and avoids unhelpful dependency on professionals.
The community is "informed by systems theory and organisational management theory as well as psychoanalytical and group-analytical ideas." It seems to me, however, that some of Dr. Bierer's ideas -- his diagnoses and treatments -- were... um... "unusual" to say the least. Here's the trigamist syndrome (Bierer 1980):
A BIGAMIST is a man who is "legally" married to two women. A "TRIGAMIST" (according to my definition) is a PERSON who is "married" (in the sense of being deeply attached) three times over to such an extent that there is little or no room left for a "permanent" commitment. The three "marriages" are to: a) a parent b) an occupation c) an ideal figure which exists only in the mind of the beholder. Parts of this syndrome have been described separately in scientific and literary form innumerable times but the syndrome as a WHOLE has never been recognised or described in spite of the fact that it is responsible for influencing millions of human relationships and destroying the life of countless people.
After that abstract, the text of the article begins in a rather colloquial fashion:
"HOW is it, that I, a psychiatrist of 55 years’ experience who has, through his work, helped thousands of people to gain insight and live a happier life, should have to marry four times?"
In a stroke of LONG-delayed genius and insight, the good doctor then diagnoses himself with the trigamist syndrome: "...I only now made the great discovery that every one of my marriages was bound to fail since I had already been married three times..."

But my favorite is the titular E.I.M.P.S., which appeared in his 1976 Zombie article [yes, really]:
The "Zombie" is brought up, from early childhood, in an emotional and social desert. Such women never learnt to develop the ability innate in most humans, the ability to accept and reciprocate the emotional signs given out by other people. This makes them unable to communicate with other people-and no wonder they land in the mental hospital, with a label of "schizophrenia" pinned on them. In the past the label "catatonic" was not unusual-sometimes it was "deep depression". These labels mean very little...

. . .

Zombies have, on the whole, a poor prognosis, unless one is able to establish a strong transference and able to help the patient to train very slowly the "Emotional Antenna" or the "Love Receiving Apparatus", without which no-one can accept, register and acknowledge the emotional signals.
I, too, have always thought that zombies have a poor prognosis given they are already dead.

And who hasn't heard of the next sad type?
The nymphomaniac female is well known and well documented. Their complete frigidity by various factors, more often than not of traumatic nature makes them run from man to man, trying to find the solution to their problem instead of looking into themselves and trying to change themselves and their whole outlook on LIFE.

Recommended Treatment: syntho-analytic re-training

I did not realize that 1976 was in the 19th century!! Have we identified the true source of Dr. Bierer's marital problems?

Finally, we have T.S.T. for E.I.M.P.S. (Bierer 1976b).

Recommended Treatment: Total Separation Treatment
Over 50 female patients (both in-patients and out-patients) were found and studied, who had in common the points previously enumerated. Theye [sic] were variously diagnosed as suffering from manic depressive insanity, agitated melancholia, reactive depression, obsessional neurosis, hysteria and anxiety state, but it is noteworthy that there was no case of schizophrenia among the group. In addition it was found that they all had one feature in common-a kind and considerate husband.
Dr. Bierer said the T.S.T. method of treatment is especially valid under the following conditions:

1. When the female is an active, extroverted person.
2. She was considered to have been a tom-boy.
3. She looked for and had the admiration of many men.
4. She had a traumatic experience in childhood, usually with her father.
5. She felt that her parents interfered unduly with her development to complete independence.
6. She had a strong, subconscious desire to leave home.
7. For that reason she believed that she had fallen in love with the first man who came along.
8. She looked younger than her age.
9. She remained unaware that she had married, not of her volition, but forced by circumstances.
10. She was emotionally immature, not being ready for married life. She was unable to experience any emotions when intimate relations with her husband took place (frigidity).
. . .
15. She felt like a cornered rat, who hits out, bites and scratches blindly in the fury of a desperate struggle for self-preservation.

I suppose the simplest way of letting a cornered rat feel that it is not cornered is to remove either its aggressors or the walls around it and let it feel that it can run wherever it likes.
If a ‘therapeutic community’ psychiatrist calls most of his female patients frigid, sex-hating cornered rats who may hate and/or despise men [what's the difference??], it's time to bring on the drugs and a get new shrink...


Bierer J. (1976). Zombie. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 22 (3), 200-201 DOI: 10.1177/002076407602200306.

Bierer J. (1976b). The total separation treatment (T.S.T.) A method for the treatment of marital difficulties and disharmonies in patients suffering from the E.I.M.P. syndrome. Int J Soc Psychiatry 22:206-13.

Bierer J. (1980). The trigamist syndrome: (A syndrome not described so far which is responsible for the breakup of innumerable marriages). Int J Soc Psychiatry 26(4):242-5.

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At July 24, 2009 7:07 AM, Blogger Neuroskeptic said...

So the EIMPS woman despises men, but doesn't hate them? I wish I knew how that worked.

Reading old psychiatry articles is always enlightening.

At July 24, 2009 11:16 AM, Blogger Alphadominance said...

The symptoms of EIMPS seem to perfectly describe the average feminist I'd say. Our nation must be overrun with EIMPS sufferers. I wonder how they'd take being called emotionally insecure anyway :)

At July 24, 2009 11:46 AM, Blogger Seema Misra said...

what a lot of bullshit ... It seems like one mans imagination not psychology ...what happened to objectivity ?

At July 24, 2009 11:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really wanted to laugh after reading this but it just upset me. Its tragic psychology improved enormously in the 70s, but psychiatry just managed to get worse.

At July 24, 2009 12:33 PM, Blogger The Neurocritic said...

Neuroskeptic - I thought the same thing: hate and despise are synonyms. I guess for despise he was going more for scorn:

1 : to look down on with contempt or aversion
2 : to regard as negligible, worthless, or distasteful

Alphadominance - Perhaps you are afflicted with "Golem" Syndrome:

This is a man, who as a child has neither experienced nor been trained in the three ingredients of emotional life: Attention, Love and Affection. The word "Golem", in mediaeval Jewish legend, describes a sort of machine man, a robot. Some 50 years ago it was the subject of a famous novel, by Gustav Meysink, made into a film.

A man who has lived such a life as a child has not developed the "emotional antenna" or the "love-receiving apparatus", to be able to receive or to acknowledge emotional signals. Such men go from woman to woman and are often considered to be excellent lovers. These women do not realise that they receive not love but hate, not compassion but revenge, not commitment but a desire to escape, that it is not a mutual emotional experience of beauty but a one-sided desire to hurt, and even to kill.

Simz - I agree, it seems like a very subjective load of BS.

Anonymous - Bierer was a psychiatrist of the social psychiatry school, which

...focuses on the interpersonal and cultural context of mental disorder and mental wellbeing. It involves a sometimes disparate set of theories and approaches...

"Disparate set" to say the least...

At July 24, 2009 12:44 PM, Anonymous (previous anonymous) said...

Thanks for the link on social psychiatry!

At July 24, 2009 12:51 PM, Blogger The Neurocritic said...

This seems like a particularly bad example of social psychiatry to me. I'm not at all opposed to considering the interpersonal and cultural context, but I'm in favor of biopsychiatry.

At July 24, 2009 1:30 PM, Blogger Alphadominance said...


Or perhaps not. My childhood was just dandy and I don't wish harm on anyone. Do you do all of your pop psychoanalysis on the merit of a comment online or am I just special?

At July 24, 2009 1:36 PM, Blogger The Neurocritic said...

Alphadominance - No, you're not special. I'm not really diagnosing anyone, of course. Were you really diagnosing the average feminist with E.I.M.P.S.?

My true opinion on Dr. Bierer's psychoanalytic views should be very obvious...

At July 24, 2009 1:46 PM, Blogger Alphadominance said...

Nope, I don't diagnose people since I am not a psych-anything. Merely remarking that the list of symptoms is hauntingly familiar. I agree with you that the original paper sounds like a load of tripe.


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