What Happens In Psychoanalytic Treatment?

What happens in psychoanalytic treatment? How is it different from behavioral type therapy? Why does it take a long time? And why is it often so hard for people to benefit? What is the reason for taking a journey inside? And why do some leave the trip before it’s over? And is it ever over?

Psychoanalysis is a treatment 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. Psychoanalysis provides a way of understanding these unconscious conflicts and beliefs that leads to the resolution of symptoms, and increased happiness and productivity in life.

Psychoanalytic treatment usually involves meeting numerous times weekly with a psychoanalyst and attempting to talk freely about one’s thoughts. This frequency of sessions is important for a person to become aware of the underlying sources of his or her difficulties not simply intellectually, but emotionally – by re-experiencing them with the analyst. Through this process the analyst and the analysand are gradually able to see the ways the person relates to the analyst, areas of life about which the patient is hesitant to talk, or patterns that emerge in dreams, memories or behaviors. Through this process change occurs. Continue reading

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Let’s Fall In Love: The Role of Love and Curiosity in Deepening the Treatment

Whoever loves becomes humble. Those who love have, so to speak, pawned a part of their narcissism.” – Freud (Standard Edition, XIV, On Narcissism, p 98)

Those of us who do psychoanalytic work are privileged, challenged, subjected to, and expected to experience with our pts degrees of every common human feeling from grief to joy, from sadness to elation, and from cooperation to antagonism every working day. For most of us, this work is a calling. Each of us answers that calling differently. I can only try to share my experience. Answering that calling is my topic. 

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How “Talking About It” Can Transform One’s Spirit

How can simply talking have transformative power? To really speak freely, and to be heard in the way a psychoanalyst works, allows a person to discover themselves. It can be surprising…

A ball player having a slump started talking to a therapist and discovered that he was conflicted about success because his brother was failing in business. This surprised him because he was not aware of this before talking. In fact his dreams had been about this brother for several weeks.

In psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy, the way a person operates is played out in the relationship. For instance, during a first consultation session a person said she hated my waiting room. When we talked about it we learned that the real issue for her was waiting. She had been kept waiting all her life – and the very idea of a room for waiting was upsetting. So the first consultation gave us both a big clue to her whole life – from starting school, work, friends, and even sex. This lady in waiting became fascinated as she began to explore the myriad feelings that waiting evoked. Continue reading

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The craving for safety.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death has cast a spotlight on the nationwide prevalence of heroin use and abuse. One aspect of the craving, or addiction to opiates that has not been stressed so far in the psychoanalytic literature is the psychic pain these drugs alleviate.

It has been recognized that heroin use is often preceded by drugs like oxycodone and vicoden recommended for physical pain. The peaceful high can become addictive. Based on my experience as a psychoanalyst and psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapist with 6 years spent working at a clinic specializing in drug related problems, I have seen that ongoing psychical trauma suffered in childhood and the anxiety that accompanies it play important roles in the craving for relief. From high paid CEOs to street addicts and ex addicts I learned first hand the back stories to drug abuse.   Continue reading

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Psychoanalysis! Is that still around? I thought it was dead.

Who can afford to go lie on a couch five times a week where the shrink hardly speaks and nothing happens! And wasn’t Freud proven wrong anyway – they should have called him Fraud. Also, I’ve heard that it’s painful. Who needs that!   Continue reading

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What’s it all about?

Psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy – or psychoanalytic work as I refer to it – is a method of self exploration – finding out how we tick by looking inside. This does not mean that the ‘outside’ is not important – but when we look carefully we begin to see that much of our external world is shaped by our earliest wishes and fears. Continue reading

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