WHAT IS PSYCHOANALYSIS
In the context of the term psychoanalysis, today, several interconnected meanings are implied: first, this term refers to a complex theory of human mental functioning, where unconscious processes are of primary importance; psychoanalysis is also a method to study them. Finally, psychoanalysis also means treatment of people with psychological problems.
The foundations of psychoanalysis were laid by the first psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud, at the end of the 19th century as well as in the first decades of the 20th century. Basic tenets of psychoanalysis may be summed up under several main principles:
- in a psychic life nothing happens by chance and without cause. Where conscious motifs for human behavior are not identified, the cause lies in the unconscious ones.
- these unconscious causes exhibit much stronger influence on our behavior and feelings than the conscious ones;
- our present behavior and experiences are largely influenced by the experiences we had in the early period of our psychic development, that used to be conscious but have become unconscious through complex psycho-dynamic processes;
- unconscious impulses, desires, fantasies, and feelings, represent the main causes of emotional difficulties;
- transferring the unconscious desires, motifs, impulses, fantasies, and feelings from the unconscious into consciousness is a prerequisite of psychological growth i.e., a permanent resolution of emotional difficulties.
This transfer from the unconscious into consciousness is possible by applying the psychoanalytic method.
WHAT IS PSYCHOANALYTIC THEORY
Psychoanalytic theory today represents a continuance and expansion of the fundamental psychoanalytic concepts laid out at the time when Freud, first by himself, and then with his coworkers, had gradually developed them. Within psychoanalysis as a theoretical discipline, there are different areas, which (mutually) complement each other. The psychoanalytic theory of personality (which studies personality structure, dynamics, and development) is therefore just one of the areas of psychoanalytic interest. The theory of psychopathology builds on it and the psychoanalytic method, as well, is being studied and refined by works dealing with the theory of psychoanalytic method and the techniques of psychoanalytic assistance to individuals.
Applied psychoanalysis i.e., psychoanalytic theory also contributes to the studies in the fields of natural and social sciences, group behavior, history, philosophy, and art. Psychoanalytic theory had a strong influence on the intellectual thought of the 20th century: similarly, current trends in social and scientific thought make use of psychoanalytic theory to interpret cultural, social, and political events.
Modern psychoanalysis with its broad areas of interest continues to develop dynamically, so today, within psychoanalysis, there are various schools and diverse views of psychoanalytic theory and practice. None of them, essentially, diverges from the general postulates about the role of the unconscious in human mental functioning or basic components of the psychoanalytic method.
From the time when Freud with his coworkers founded the International Psychoanalytical Association – IPA, in 1910, until today, this world association of psychoanalysts has grown to include more than 12000 members, organized in more than 100 psychoanalytical societies and organizations on all continents, engaged in the theory and practice of psychoanalysis. Many component societies of IPA publish studies by their members in psychoanalytic journals that are all stored in a unique digital database, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing (Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing).
The psychoanalytic method essentially represents both the method of exploring human unconsciousness and the process of overcoming emotional difficulties. The foundations of the psychoanalytic method were laid by the founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, in the period between 1892 and 1905; this pioneering era of psychoanalysis, also considered to be the beginning of psychoanalysis, was followed by the development of psychoanalytic theory, based on the discoveries about the structure and functions of the unconscious that were made through the psychoanalytic method. The result was a dynamic growth, which significantly broadened the notion of psychoanalysis and the application areas of its discoveries, so that psychoanalysis today also entails the theory of personality (including psychoanalytic developmental theory), theory of psychopathology, as well as anthropology, theory of society, culture, and civilization in the broadest sense.
WHAT IS PSYCHOANALYTIC TREATMENT
Psychoanalytic treatment in the broadest sense refers to the application of psychoanalytic method in the work with an analysand and aims at transferring the unconscious processes (feelings, thoughts, fantasies, and the like) to consciousness, so that the individual gains, through the psychoanalytic treatment, this portion of his or her mental functions, which had previously been out of reach and had been functioning outside of his or her conscious control. The psychoanalytic treatment today, in its main components, does not essentially differ from the one established by Freud.
A person in a psychoanalytic treatment – the analysand, voluntarily accepts work rules defined by the psychoanalytic method. Formally speaking, these rules seem simple and refer to two main principles, which govern the encounter between the psychoanalyst and analysand. The first principle refers to the rule of free association: during a psychoanalytic session, the analysand is expected to lie on the couch and endeavor to employ free association i.e., to communicate the content of his/her current thread of thought freely and openly (ideas, desires, memories, dreams, fantasies) regardless of whether that content is disconnected or, perhaps, inappropriate to be freely shared. Analytical experiences, accumulated over more than a century, point to the fact that all these mental contents are under no circumstances disjointed or insignificant, rather, they carry associative connection with the very mental contents that we wish to bring to consciousness.
It is this rule of psychoanalytic work that differentiates the analytic relationship from all other interpersonal communications. Initially, the analysand might not always find it easy to freely communicate in this way and may require some time to master this. As a rule, the analysand, especially in the beginning, resists to accept this unusual mode of work. As a matter of fact, the analysand temporarily yields conscious control of his/her train of thought and may, thus, fear that his/her associations would be inappropriate, indecent, or simply too personal. The psychoanalyst, for his or her part, maintains the attitude of neutrality toward the communication shared by the analysand, in terms of absence of any kind of judgment, moralizing, or, simply, nonacceptance. At the same time, in order to facilitate the operation of the free association rule, the analysand is encouraged to openly relate his or her often very intimate contents, given that the analytic session takes place in a protected environment, where the analysand is being assured that his or her intimacy remains within the analytical relationship and cannot be communicated to a third person.
Besides the rule of free association, as the main one, there is a second rule, which refers to the analysand’s abstinence i.e., restrain from instant gratification for the sake of future one. This primarily refers to the needs of gratification of various desires, impulses, or fantasies, that have, in fact, been set into motion, to a greater or lesser degree, by free associations. As a rule, the content of free associations often includes desires, tendencies, and impulses, which have been set free from the unconscious and which get frequently linked to the figure of the psychoanalyst or are to be “played out” in a suitable situation. The analysand is being encouraged to express such needs so that both parties acknowledge their existence, but instead of seeking gratification, these needs are being analyzed.
WHO MAY BENEFIT FROM PSYCHOANALYTIC TREATMENT
Psychoanalytic treatment can be utilized with anyone who sees their own problems in life functioning not only as a consequence of unfavorable external circumstances but, also, recognizes their own significant contribution to them. Also, anyone who considers their own issues in work or sexual functioning to be serious, who experiences a diminished creative capacity, or feels burdensome tensions in their close personal relationships or within a wider social circle, may consider psychoanalytic treatment. The same goes for individuals who painfully struggle with various kinds of fears, which they themselves may often find irrational, but this alone does not help diminish the power of those fears. Analytic treatment is also useful to persons who are unable to resist all sorts of compulsive behaviors or thoughts, which plague them against their will. Similar also applies to individuals who are experiencing long-term depressive symptoms as well as those who suffer from all kinds of somatic complaints with no evidence of a physical cause. Eating disorder problems are also on the list of issues that can be treated with psychoanalytic method. Individuals who have gone through recent or early traumatic experiences, find that they can be freed from these unpleasant events through psychoanalytic treatment.
Finally, individuals who do not have any of the abovementioned issues, but who wish to learn more about themselves, their unconscious and mental functioning – which will in turn certainly help them develop a better understanding of others, may also gain significant benefits from psychoanalytic treatment.
PSYCHOANALYSIS IN CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS
Psychoanalytic treatment does not only focus on adults; children and adolescent are, also, quite frequent analysands of psychoanalysts who specialize in working with children and adolescents. Both children and adolescents may experience same psychological problems that trouble adults although their dynamics and the way they manifest are different. Whereas psychoanalytic treatment of adolescents – especially the older ones – is very similar to that of adults, analytic treatment of a child differs from psychoanalysis of an adult, firstly because the child, instead of free associations on the couch, uses play, which essentially serves as a substitute for free associations of the adult. Before beginning the psychoanalytic treatment of the child, the analyst performs consultations with the child’s parents i.e., caretakers. During the psychoanalytic treatment of a child, the analyst has regular consultations with the parents, but at the same time, as a rule, does not disclose details of the child’s communication which had occurred during analytic sessions.
If you wish to schedule a consultation with a psychoanalyst, you may contact us…
From its beginnings to today, psychoanalysis has been an endless source of valuable discoveries about individuality and meaning, the discoveries that are most often situated somewhere in between science and art, continuously inspirational to researchers.
How does our mind function? How does it develop? How does it change? What changes? What makes a individual experience and react differently? How do we understand and treat psychological pain?
A quest to find answers to these questions gave rise to psychoanalysis as a special method of studying human mind and generating psychological change.
Psychoanalytic exploration begins with the use of the free association method, or attentive listening to a free progression of thoughts, feelings, fantasies, and dreams that emerge in particular contexts. This exploration, popularly called the “talking cure,” leads to the discovery of unconscious psychic processes, which although unknown to the individual, strongly influence a wide spectrum of their functioning and frequently lead to deep suffering, even to the formation of symptoms.
During the first hundred years of its existence, psychoanalysis mostly advanced as a clinical method with an emphasis on development of psychoanalytic technique which would help an individual to change. A unique exploration of the inner world of an individual (analytic case) carried out on the basis of psychoanalytic methods and knowledge is considered by many to be a relevant psychoanalytic science. A scientific non-clinical verification is perhaps unnecessary as long as satisfied patients, who know well what psychoanalytic treatment has done for them, leave analytic rooms. Empirical research fails to incorporate the complexity of clinical experience, so there exists distrust in the results it provides.
In the last forty years, there were more and more psychoanalysts conversant with the use of methods of empirical science and invested in applying those methods in psychoanalysis, convinced that the science would not kill the practice but rather give it a new meaning and an upgrade for the 21st century (Shapiro & Emde, 1995).
A number of key claims of psychoanalysis, especially the ones that emphasize the importance of the quality of a relationship we have with a significant other during our early development for our later life experiences, have already gained scientific verification. Research from neuropsychoanalysis, a relatively new scientific discipline, which combines psychoanalysis and neuroscience, foreshadows interesting new discoveries. More details at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BElUOQqvyEg
The International Psychoanalytical Association – IPA, to which PSS belongs, strongly supports psychoanalytic research, promotes cooperation with academic science centers, offers education in research methods, and provides resources for their implementation.
WHO ARE PSYCHOANALYSTS AND HOW TO CONTACT THEM?
The title ‘psychoanalyst’ is awarded to a person who completes psychoanalytic education (i.e., psychoanalytic training) as defined by the rules of the International Psychoanalytical Association. (IPA). This organization sets the standards which a licensed psychoanalyst psychoanalyst must meet in order to practice psychoanalysis competently and professionally. On the other hand, in the absence of legal regulations, anyone could claim to be a psychoanalyst, and that may be a cause for confusion. As a rule, all licensed psychoanalysts are listed in a database, which is regularly being updated by the International Psychoanalytical Association, so that anyone interested can find these names on the IPA website: http://www.ipa.world/en/copy_roster.aspx
The licensed psychoanalysts are, through their membership, organized into local psychoanalytical societies, each being a branch of IPA. These branches publish on their websites the lists of their members – psychoanalysts, so that they can easily be looked up and contacted…
HOW TO BECOME A PSYCHOANALYST?
In order for someone to become a psychoanalyst, they must meet the standards recommended by the International Psychoanalytical Association which are quite rigorous. In order to become a psychoanalyst, one needs to complete psychoanalytic training, which is offered exclusively in institutions, component societies of IPA network. As a rule, the psychoanalytic training is delivered at three interconnected levels:
1. Personal psychoanalysis, which includes four psychoanalytic sessions per week, four days a week, in the duration of the entire psychoanalytic education. The goal of personal i.e., “training” analysis is identical to the goals of any other psychoanalytic treatment, i.e., it facilitates understanding of how unconscious processes affect our conscious functioning. Also, from the very beginning, psychoanalytic theory and practice had placed a special emphasis on pursuing a task, through training-analysis, of freeing the psychoanalyst-candidate from those unconscious factors, which could interfere with their individual psychoanalytic professional life and work.
2. Studying psychoanalytic theory and method – the curriculum of these studies, which are usually designed as seminars – continues through all the years of education for psychoanalysts, and is organized according to didactic principles, in terms of starting from the classic tenets of psychoanalysis and ending with a critical discussion of contemporary views of psychoanalytic theory and practice.
3. Work with the analysand under supervision – After undergoing personal- i.e., training-psychoanalysis for a certain amount of time, and after successfully completing a preset number of theoretical and technical seminars, the psychoanalytic candidate begins their own psychoanalytic treatment of an analysand. The candidate performs this work exclusively under the supervision of an older and more experienced colleague i.e., a psychoanalyst who has, within the given psychoanalytical organization, received the title of a training analyst. If you wish to become a psychoanalyst, you may contact us at…