Friday, July 31, 2009

The "Golem" Syndrome

Actor and Director Paul Wegener in The Golem: How He Came Into the World (1920), a German Expressionist masterpiece.

Last week, we learned about the Zombie, the Nymphomaniac, and the Emotional Immaturity Masculine Protest Syndrome (Bierer, 1976a). In the second and final installment of the strange diagnoses of Austrian psychiatrist Joshua Bierer, M.D., F.R.C.PSYCH., D.ECON. & SOC.SC. (VIENNA), DIP.INDIV.PSYCH., we have the "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.

Julian McMahon as Dr. Christian Troy

I was immediately reminded of fictional plastic surgeon Dr. Christian Troy, a main character on the over-the-top American TV show, Nip/Tuck. Dr. Troy uses women sexually (including nearly all of his female patients) and then tosses them aside. However, dramatic revelations about his past ostensibly offer some explanation for his present behavior: he was molested as a child by his foster father, and his biological mother was raped and became pregnant with him.

In an article entitled, Love-making--an act of murder, the real-life Dr. Bierer (1976) continues his description of the "Golem" syndrome (G.S.) in a case study of one of his patients:
The husband’s girl friends considered him a "great lover", not realising that it was a dagger and not a loving penis, which he pushed into them. They did not realise that this man could not love, could not commit himself, was unable to develop a relationship, that he hated all women and wanted to kill them-but to avoid that he ran away as soon as he could.

The secret of all this goes back far into his childhood-and it was revealed during his analysis.

During the war the husband’s mother, who was a cold woman, unable to show any love or affection, was mainly away. The husband’s father left for abroad when the husband was six years of age, leaving him and his brother, who was then three years old, in the hands of a very cruel nanny. The nanny told him one day that she was going to kill his brother and tell everybody that he had killed him, as people knew that he hated his brother. (This has been confirmed.)

One can imagine the dreadful anxiety this poor boy had to suffer, not being able to ask anybody for help, being completely in the hands of this cruel nanny.
And there we have a convenient Freudian rationalization for inveterate cheating and for domestic violence, which was "cheerfully tolerated" by his wife the shrew who limited his freedom:
In this case it was imperative to part husband and wife, in order to prevent possible murder. The husband had been violent towards his wife in the past. She took it in good spirits and with courage, because she loved him and she loved their children, whom she did not want to harm by running away. Whenever he became violent she jumped on his back and tried to protect herself as best she could. This made him all the more furious, as he felt his freedom "physically curtailed". It was already mentally curtailed by her scenes of jealousy and tantrums, which she threw whenever she suspected that he had once again been unfaithful.
The couple separated for several months, during which time the wife fell for someone else. But then they got back together and...
...started sexual relations again-and although they are not quite as satisfactory as they were originally, I believe the chance of murder has been removed forever...
Let's hope so!


Bierer J. (1976a). Zombie. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 22 (3), 200-201.

Bierer, J. (1976). Love--Making--An Act of Murder: The "Golem" Syndrome (G.S.) International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 22 (3), 197-199 DOI: 10.1177/002076407602200305

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At August 02, 2009 12:23 AM, Blogger Neuroskeptic said...

Is that a dagger in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me...?

At January 27, 2010 1:40 PM, Blogger Lake_Monahan said...

Yes, but what about women who have all the 'symptoms' of the Golem syndrome? There are such women.


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