Patricia McCarthy – Of Klein Bottles, Cuts and Sex

THE LETTER 09 (Spring 1997) pages 47-60

A young man had the following dreams. He is obsessional and his symptom involves a sexual attraction to other young men, always in a form more perfect or beautiful than himself. The first dream is as follows:

We were at the scene of an accident. My friend, (male) was stuck in a shaft in the ground. It was as if he was standing up in it wedged in by his heels. The situation was desperate as the water level was rising. We put planks around the edges of the hole to shore it up and to give him some leverage to get out of this shaft. I went off to phone the fire brigade but when I returned the situation had worsened. The water level had almost covered his head and in the dream, my gaze focused on this pair of heels wedging him in.

So, as you listen to an anxiety dream like this, you cannot be immune to the danger that this young man is in. However, what presented itself in the account was a pair-of-heels. This reference to a pair-of-heels is Other. It jars with the otherwise distressing content of the dream. And, likewise, my intervention seems to jar, when all I ask him is, ‘What about this pair-of-heels?’ His response was, ‘Now that you mention it, I think of women’s high heels, breasts or testicles’. In the next session, he produced a second dream. It is in three parts.

(1) I was in a cafeteria like Bewleys. It was just before opening time. The doors were still closed and the waitresses were doing some last minute brushing to the floor, just before the crowd outside was to come in. Inside, I was aware of the tension and

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