What is psychoanalysis?
How do psychoanalysts work?
Psychoanalysis is a practice of talking. ’The talking cure’ was developed by Sigmund Freud in the 1890s. According to Freud, our behaviour is determined by unconscious forces; something that lays the ground in our childhood that impacts our present and everyday life. My work is oriented by Jacques Lacan who is a French psychoanalyst and he insisted on returning to Freud’s work with a focus on unconscious, speech and language.
Psychoanalysis works with a variety of issues such as major life changes, anxiety, depression, feeling lonely, jealousy, overwhelming thoughts, repetitive patterns that feel difficult to break, love/gender/relationships or sometimes just a curiosity about understanding ourselves better. Individuals usually seek help when their symptoms become overwhelming.
The idea of a psychoanalytic treatment is to be able to access our parts that we are not aware of, which creates our suffering. We try and do this by creating a space to speak freely about what comes to mind (free association). Our crisis, suffering, symptoms are linked to what is ‘unsaid’; therefore, treatment aims to work with the unconscious by enabling the individual to articulate what cannot be said. Exploration of these unconscious processes can enable the individual to find their own way to dealing with difficulties in their life.
Some approaches today focus on eliminating/correcting symptoms with an intent to help the person bring back to the ‘normal’. Psychoanalysis works with symptoms that can normally be seen as pathological in a different way. We work with symptoms in order to understand the uniqueness of the person and what the symptom is trying to tell us rather than to get rid of it. Symptoms are to be heard in a different way and not to be eliminated, as they act as a clue to the individual’s past and where the suffering lies. Being able to understand our symptoms will bring relief to our suffering eventually.
There may be a belief that some analysts/therapists can be silent or blank individuals. On the contrary, I would be asking you questions about your past, childhood, family relationships, dreams and inviting you to discuss whatever comes to your mind. Sometimes talking about everyday life that doesn’t seem important to you on the surface can bring something important. Psychoanalysis works with ‘chain of word associations’ that something we say may be linked to another word that is highly significant in our past and we do not think about it every day. I would listen in a different way and pay attention to words you use in order to help you uncover something fruitful.