When people ask what psychoanalysis is, they usually want to know
about treatment. As a therapy, psychoanalysis is based on the observation
that individuals are often unaware of many of the factors that determine
their emotions and behavior. These unconscious factors may create
unhappiness, sometimes in the form of recognizable symptoms and
at other times as troubling personality traits, difficulties in
work or in love relationships, or disturbances in mood and self
esteem. Because these forces are unconscious, the advice of friends
and family, the reading of self help books, or even the most determined
efforts of will, often fail to provide relief.
Psychoanalytic treatment demonstrates how these unconscious factors
affect current relationships and patterns of behavior, traces them
back to their historical origins, shows how they have changed and
developed over time, and helps the individual to deal better with
the realities of adult life.
Analysis is an intimate partnership, in the course of which the
patient becomes aware of the underlying sources of his or her difficulties
not simply intellectually, but emotionally - by re-experiencing
them with the analyst. Typically, the patient comes four or five
times a week, lies on a couch, and attempts to say everything that
comes to mind. These conditions create the analytic setting, which
permits the emergence of aspects of the mind not accessible to other
methods of observation. As the patient speaks, hints of the unconscious
sources of current difficulties gradually begin to appear - in certain
repetitive patterns of behavior, in the subjects which the patient
finds hard to talk about, in the ways the patient relates to the
The analyst helps elucidate these for the patient, who refines,
corrects, rejects, and adds further thoughts and feelings. During
the years that an analysis takes place, the patient wrestles with
these insights, going over them again and again with the analyst
and experiencing them in daily life, in fantasies, and in dreams.
Patient and analyst join in efforts not only to modify crippling
life patterns and remove incapacitating symptoms, but also to expand
the freedom to work and to love. Eventually the patient's life -
his or her behavior, relationships, sense of self - changes in deep
and abiding ways.
and Adolescent Psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis only a Therapy?
Can Benefit from Psychoanalysis?
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