WEIRDLAND: Jim Morrison: Man Against Himself (47th Anniversary of Jim Morrison's death)

Monday, July 02, 2018

Jim Morrison: Man Against Himself (47th Anniversary of Jim Morrison's death)

Being unable to accept or recognize the interior, more complicated layers of one’s identity, and lacking adequate awareness or acceptance of other people’s full identities, are symptoms of being unintegrated—to suffer from a syndrome of 'diffuse identity.' Borderline impulsivity traits are predicted by both diffusion and identity splitting. 'Splitting' is the tendency to swing from idealization to devaluation of self and others. This conclusion is in line with Otto Kernberg’s observations that identity 'diffusion' is characterized by the continued presence of contradictory identifications and the predominance of 'splitting' over repression. However, when splitting is used by an individual who does not present a diffusion of identity, impulsivity could be related to a negative emotional state associated with a specific lack of impulse control. The present results are in accordance with Kernberg’s model postulating that identity diffusion reflects a lack of integration of positive and negative segments of objects relations and is associated with several behavioral manifestations such as emotional lability, anger, interpersonal chaos, and impulsive self-destructive behaviors (Clarkin et al., 2007). Levy and colleagues (2006) describe identity diffusion as a lack of metasocial-cognitive ability to observe, reflect, and describe emotional states which can reduce affect and selfregulation. It is assumed that identity and cognitive processes have a reciprocal influence on the development and modulation of affective responses by providing the representational aspects of affect activation (Kernberg, 2005). The dissociation between two sectors of the psyche could deprive the person from having access to crucial information during the deliberation stage of information processing. Source:

Imagine a mind not ever feeling safe, moving along in life accompanied by an unimaginable dread, in which there is no sense of oneself, and no reference points—a self-threatening mental state. While encompassed in the nothingness, the mind experiences a confounding chaos and an indescribable sense of catastrophe. Unable to comprehend the reality of others, the mind thus cannot comprehend itself or a recognizable self-reality. A little understood disorder in the 1960s, it engulfed the sufferers leaving no way out. One of the most complicated and disruptive states of being, it is difficult for someone in it to describe and almost impossible for those not there to imagine. But it has been identified, and is now able to be treated with modest success. In clinical practice, it is currently known as borderline syndrome or borderline personality disorder. That chaotic internal state of mind that characterized Jim Morrison's psyche was relentless, leading him in the process to experience profound and consuming identity conflicts at times. Psychoanalyst William W. Meissner has conceptualized these “emotive vs detached” borderline types as constituting what he calls a “hysterical - schizoid spectrum”, placing Janis Joplin on the hysterical end and Jim Morrison on the schizoid end.

Relatives, biographers, and fans have considered the possibilities and offered their speculations, which generally fall into one of the following hypotheses. The first one is that the subculture of the rockstar lifestyle destroyed Jim Morrison. But we must consider that alcohol and drug abuse were symptoms of a deeper, less obvious disturbance. Elvis Presley for example, for all his abuse of various substances, did not exhibit such persistent and chaotic behavior. Nor did he verbalize the feelings of alienation and despair that were so characteristic of Morrison. The second hypothesis consists of the concept of success in the world of entertainment as actually a defeat for one’s spiritual and emotional health. Especially the idea of the continually exploited and alienated star, finally turning to drugs and alcohol for relief. This theme is encountered in at least one biography of Marilyn Monroe, and is suggested in the movie based on Janis Joplin's life, The Rose. Many other artists had to cope with the pressures of stardom that were a constant source of aggravation in their lives, but they didn't succumb to self-destructive impulses. Thus we must look further into Morrison's personality, not only the environment, for the answers. 

Some of his biographers presented a portrait of Jim Morrison as a taunting, teasing, hostile, oppositional man whose embrace of the dark side reflected his own deeply embedded despair. However much he may repel us, we can not help but be touched by the depth of his suffering. A diary of Morrison, thought to be from around this period (at the end of his life, in Paris), is riddled with a sense of helplessness—scrawled passages of desperation in lines like ‘God help me, God help me’ scribbled over and over again, filling entire pages. Jim Morrison appeared to have attained his rock star status by a confluence of unusual circumstances: the emerging student counterculture of the sixties, his own rapidly expanding interest in radical experiences, and the considerable artistic talent he possessed for developing music. On some level, Morrison realized that the danger of the times was also internal—that the "love generation" was hardly without its own dark impulses. In fact, Morrison seemed to understand that any generation so intent on giving itself permission to go as far as it could was also giving itself a license for (self) destruction. He also talked of pursuing sanity through insanity, and so he embraced the mysterious, the inscrutable, the extreme, the illogical, the disordered and the sensual. The purpose of his self-destructive substance abuse was not to discover the other side but to escape the other side. By behaving in an outrageous and provocative manner, Jim Morrison attempted to fill the void, to prevent panic from overwhelming him. 

Jim Morrison was quoted as saying, “I think the highest and lowest points are the important ones.” Also, “People use me to come alive. They’re all looking for a peak experience.” Morrison acted out on many levels. Not all were entertaining; few were understood. Sometimes he seemed to propose taking on the audience's evil urges or even becoming evil’s repository. James Riordan and Jerry Prochnicky offer the best characterization of his performances: “Watching him sing was like witnessing a man dangling in his own anguish. Seeing him scream, writhe, and whisper his way into a head-on clash with some ultimate truth could be truly frightening.” In Man Against Himself (1938) and Love Against Hate (1942), Karl Menninger described that inexplicable external behaviors are the result of struggles with untamed, internal forces present in all humans. In the case of Morrison, these self-destructive and aggressive forces could be avoided only by achieving some form of psychological mechanism such as sublimation or personality integration. Morrison's charisma, and some of songs and poetry emerged from the most conflicted elements of his personality. The tragedy was that the full promise of Jim Morrison was unrealized at the time of his death. —"Living in the Dead Zone: Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison—Borderline Personality" (2010) by Gerald Faris

The Crack-Up: Before the morning of July 3, 1971, Alain Raisson, a French fireman, had never heard of the American singer and poet Jim Morrison. Raisson and his team of five firemen tried to revive him, but failed, and within minutes of arriving at the apartment on 17 rue Beautreillis in the Marais district of Paris, it was Raisson who pronounced Morrison dead. The cause of death appeared to be heart failure, and because there were no bruises or any other marks of violence on the body, the police who arrived shortly after Raisson's team decided not to proceed with an autopsy -- a decision that many of Morrison's fans still question today. "If anyone in the police had known he was famous, I am sure they would have done an autopsy," says Raisson, who will not speculate on what caused Morrison's apparent heart attack. All he knows is that Courson made the emergency call at 9:20 on that fateful Saturday morning. Raisson and his team arrived minutes later, and found her distraught, still in her nightgown. She told them that Morrison had awoken at 6 a.m. and told her that he was not feeling well, and would take a bath. When he wasn't in bed nearly 3 1/2 hours later, Courson went to investigate and called the emergency number. "That was the encounter, very intense and very brief," repeats Raisson. According to Mirandi Babitz, "Jim and Pamela were just always talking about death, they talked about dying together". —"A History of the 27 Club: Jim Morrison" (2015) by Howard Sounes

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