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What is psychoanalysis?
A Google definition notes it is “a system of psychological theory and
therapy that aims to treat mental disorders by investigating the interaction
of conscious and unconscious elements in the mind and bringing repressed
fears and conflicts into the conscious mind by techniques such as dream
interpretation and free association.”
Psychoanalysis is a human encounter, an enterprise in “free speech” that is natural,
spontaneous, unrehearsed, and confidential.It has been called depth psychotherapy
as well as autonomous psychotherapy. Its primary aim aim is to help the client/
analysand achieve autonomy, a greater freedom to individuate, to become the more
whole person he or she is intended to be.
Psychoanalysis is not a medical treatment even though it may inform a
psychiatrist’s practice. It is not a medical activity, nor psychiatric treatment or
specific technique, nor psychological research It is an intimate dialogue between
two individuals who are both changed through conversation, i.e., “the talking
cure.” Presenting symptoms suggest a loss of conscious intentionality, control,
decision making, and freedom. Psychoanalytic consultation hopes to liberate the
analysand from the old patterns that do not work in the present (neurosis),
unconsciously determined meanings and behaviors, and stereotypic behaviors. The
primary aim is to preserve and expand the client’s autonomy. Psychoanalysis is
also an educational enterprise, a learning about one’s self through psychological
reflection and mindfulness.
Who can benefit from psychoanalytic consultation?
It is useful for women and men who have struggled with longstanding difficulties
and impasses regarding themselves, others, the worlds of love and work. Our
difficulties that have been around a long time often do not respond to other medical
and psychological methods available since various types of problems have their
roots below the surface of our conscious lives, such as in childhood, past traumas,
or emerging life transitions and potentialities. Common sense, self help,
suggestion, advice, short-term counseling, brief therapy, cognitive behavioral
treatments often fail in addressing our enduring difficulties, especially around
identity, intimacy, and vocational issues. Analysis goes deeper to animate freedom
from problematic complexes and psychological transformation.
Dr. David J. Dalrymple
Jungian Psychoanalyst, Director, TriState Consultation Services