While psychoanalytic theories are of great value in understanding human nature itself and its cultural products in the fields of literature, theatre and, especially, cinema, they are also invaluable to individual people who are troubled by their own distressing feelings and behaviour.
People who may be severely and chronically anxious or depressed, people who may have repeated difficulties in relationships, people who may have difficulty forming any relationships at all, or people who feel an unexplained emptiness in their lives, can benefit significantly from psychoanalytic treatment.
Psychoanalysis occupies a very complicated place in the modern world: it has a great deal to offer in helping to understand one’s own self, and how one’s own mind operates – as well as helping to understand much of how other people work!
Yet, by its very nature it leads us into often quite threatening and unwelcome territory.
When Psychoanalysis as a treatment technique was invented by Sigmund Freud in the very early 1900s, he quite quickly understood that his findings – through his clinical work with patients – would disturb the world. This has proved to be true and nowadays even the mention of the word “psychoanalysis” attracts a hostile response from many people.
Nevertheless, for those with the courage to persist – either as patients, or students of the human mind – in trying to understand what psychoanalysis has to offer, there will be considerable reward.
Psychoanalysis, by its very nature, delves into the world of the unconscious mind. It operates on the basis that our early experiences – of whatever nature – strongly influence how our minds develop and how we interact with the other people around us.
Many significant psychoanalysts have contributed to our understanding of mental development and the operation of mental processes and how these help us to deal with the world around us.
While psychoanalysis is still almost automatically connected to Freud, this does not acknowledge the very many advances in both theory and technique which have resulted from psychoanalytic therapeutic work and research over the past 100 years.
Psychoanalysis has worked with very highly disturbed patients, some diagnosed as psychotics, as well as with much less disturbed patients or those with a problem caused by a traumatic event. Nowadays, medication is sometimes used alongside the psychoanalytic treatment, depending on the reason for consulting and the progress of the treatment.
It deals with personal crisis through the communication and interaction of the therapist and the patient. The relationship established between them both is a professional one, based on techniques, structures and therapeutic principles designed to develop and strengthen the individual.
Each person involved in a relationship has a personal and family history. When an affective bond is established between these two people, some complicated challenges can appear as a crisis, especially when the couple faces a specific situation such as a financial crisis, an infertility problem, issues with their children or their in-laws, etc. Couples psychotherapy allows the couple to explore and to open new and better possibilities for the relationship, therefore deepening and enriching the relationship.
Adolescence is a time that presents big challenges for both kids and their parents. Psychotherapy during these years is a tool that benefits the relations between everyone involved. During the development of the process, youngsters feel identified, supported and understood by someone else but they also get the chance to create new choices to face problems from a different perspective and move to the adult stage with less trouble.