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 peoples’ minds work!
Yet, by its very nature it leads us into often quite threatening and unwelcome territory.
When “Psychoanalysis” as a treatment technique was discovered 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 – especially the so-called defense mechanisms – 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.
Psychoanalysts have also worked with very highly disturbed patients, who would otherwise be diagnosed as “psychotic” by many psychiatrists. But if both the patient and the psychoanalyst have the required motivation and courage, good results can be obtained. Nowadays, medication is sometimes used alongside the psychoanalytic treatment, although reliance is heavily on the part of the treatment which is the relationship formed with the analyst.
Further information about psychoanalysis and what it has to offer will be found in other pages on this website.