What is Psychoanalysis?

Psychoanalysis is based on the observation that individuals are often unaware of many of the factors that determine their emotions and their behavior.
Unconscious conflicts can create disharmony, unhappiness, and inhibitions that may be expressed through difficulties that affect us in work or relationships or create disturbances in our mood and self-esteem. Psychoanalytic treatment reveals how these unconscious forces are affecting current behavior.
Because these forces are unconscious, the advice of friends and family, the reading of self-help books, or even an individual’s most determined efforts will often fail to provide relief. In analytic treatment, we get hints about these unconscious thoughts and expectations by carefully examining the choices we make, our patterns of behavior, our dreams, our memories of the past, and our spontaneous thoughts.
Many of these unconscious thoughts and expectations can be traced to our childhoods. Although we may have found the best solutions to our challenges when we were young, those same solutions may hinder our development and successful adaptation as adults unless we can understand them as fully as possible.
Psychoanalysis provides this opportunity by establishing an intimate working partnership between the analyst and the individual. During the work, the patient becomes aware of the underlying sources of his or her difficulties, not simply intellectually, but emotionally, by re-experiencing them with his or her analyst, in the safety of the analytic setting. This natural process, called transference, enables us to modify crippling life patterns, remove incapacitating symptoms, expand the freedom to work productively, to love freely and unhindered, and to change in deep and abiding ways.

Who Can Benefit from Psychoanalysis?

Psychoanalysis is especially suited for those who need to get to the root of long-term problems and patterns rather than immediate issues.
Some peope come to analysis because of repeated failures in work or in love brought about not by chance, but by self-destructive patterns of behavior. Others come because the way they are- their character- substantially limits their freedom and their pleasures. And still other seek analysis to definitively resolve psychological problems that were only temporarily or partially resolved by other forms of treatment.
One of the most common reasons for entering analysis is the problem of finding and maintaining a stable and loving relationship.

A psychoanalyst can help people:
 Get relief from painful emotional problems
 Improve personal relationships
 Become more productive at work
 Take more pleasure from life
 Prevent the past from interfering in the present
 Stop self-destructive patterns of behavior
 Gain greater control over their life
 Unlock their creative potential
 Understand themselves
 Feel understood

Is Psychoanalysis Right for Me?

While psychoanalysis may not be for everyone, almost anyone suffering form psychological symptoms can benefit from some type of psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy. Whether a person would benefit most from psychoanalysis or psychotherapy is best determined by a consultation with a psychoanalyst.
If a troubled person is capable of having and using insights and is emotionally sturdy enough to tolerate intense, difficult feelings that can arise during treatment, he or she is likely to be able to benefit form analysis. On the other hand, some patients are more able to make use of psychotherapy to understand and change their lives.
Most patients first see an analyst for an evaluation to determine what type of treatment is most appropriate. If it’s psychoanalysis, treatment typically consists of meeting four to five times per week over a long-term period of time.
Through an emotional reliving of one’s life narrative and conflicts during these sessions, the intensity of treatment permits the deepest and longest last changes.
Psychoanalytic psychotherapy uses the same theoretical principles and methods of exploration but with less intensity, meeting one to three times per week with the therapist. For some people, this is a more manageable, yet highly effective method of treatment.
Psychoanalysis may be used in conjunction with other treatments, such as psychopharmacology, couples counseling or family therapies. Many studies demonstrate that psychotherapy with medication is more effective than mediation alone, underscoring the human need for talking things over in a safe and private environment.

From American Psychoanalytic Association
From about psychoanalysis
Copyright 2004