Fifteen brave souls journeyed with me on Wordier Than Thou, Tuesday the 28th of July (my brother’s birthday). I can’t tell you how much fun I had on Zoom sharing – for the first time – excerpts from my memoir: Fear, Folly & Freud: A Psychotherapist in Psychoanalysis. Here is a photo from the event:
Those of you who witnessed my debut know how captivated I am by by Freudian psychoanalysis. Today, I thought of another way to explain what I like about psychoanalysis.
When we decide we need therapy, we think we are going to a therapist to get guidance and loving support. We think the therapist will have answers. We think our job as a client, is to listen to the therapist, be compliant, do what the therapist advises.
This is what, unconsciously of course, I was expecting when I signed up for what I initially called depth therapy. I expected that the person I was consulting would know things I didn’t know and give me advice.
When this wasn’t what happened, I was miffed. The analyst I was consulting didn’t act like I acted with my clients. I wasn’t sure that she even liked me. I felt criticized when she didn’t agree with me and unloved when she didn’t give me the approval I thought I deserved.
In psychoanalytic treatment, the patient (in this case me) is instructed to say anything and everything that comes to mind (a technique called free association). This means that the analyst takes a more passive attitude, uses a different kind of listening and responds to what the patient offers from the unconscious.
This means that the patient remains largely autonomous. Has less chance to become dependent. The patient, instead of looking to the analyst for direct advice, positive suggestions, or detailed instruction, has to come up with their own insights and trust their inner self or what is often called the unconscious.
The analyst gathers together the material that the patient presents and then develops interpretations, short statements that shock or surprise the patient that are designed to help them change. I found that I could chew on a good interpretation for many years and feel how it was changing me.
The more the patient hears her own self talk and integrates the analyst’s offerings, the more able she is to solve her own problems. The more confidence she has in herself.
Of course it is much more complicated but this is the basic framework.
Let me ask you this: What has been your experience of seeking help? Do you like to get the answers, pay the helper & go on your way? Or do you want the helper to guide you in finding your own answers and journey with you?