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Orientation to analytic treatment

Updated: Jan 9, 2023

The training of psychoanalysts involves supervised clinical experience and rigorous studies in psychoanalytic theory and practice and other relevant disciplines. But its most important component is the personal analysis of the psychoanalyst: a personal, intimate experience that enables the prospective analyst, as analysand, to learn from their unconscious and then work creatively with the unconscious in others. Each analyst develops his or her own practice by drawing on a coherent body of theory derived from the works of Freud, Lacan and others and by undergoing the experience of psychoanalysis. The specificity of each analyst's position in relation to psychoanalysis is that an analyst is able to sustain the fundamental concepts of psychoanalysis in the development of his or her own praxis and in the transmission of psychoanalysis.

Rather than using the fixed diagnostic categories of psychology and psychiatry, psychoanalytic treatment is founded on the work of exploration and analysis of the patient’s unconscious material. Freud described the work of psychoanalysis as bringing the patient's repressed mental material into consciousness. The unconscious contains the representatives of those desires and forms of satisfaction that the person rejects and does not want to know about, but that end up controlling and repeating in their everyday lives. So the object of an analytic treatment is to distinguish the symptom from the underlying structure and move towards a knowledge of the unconscious. Thus the analysis allows the person to advance in an intentionality that frees him or her from their suffering and ignorance about which they are unaware. As long as a persons desires and modes of satisfaction remain unconscious or under repression, they undermine and can even cripple the way they experiences relationships, work and social life. But the unconscious is not only the cause of distressing and pathological experiences, it is also the source of creative endeavours and constructive human activities; the arts and scientific work; and forms of social and cultural life that enrich human existence. Hence, a psychoanalytic treatment can facilitate the emergence and development of each person’s creative potential that has been thwarted by pathological processes and traumatic life circumstances.

Psychoanalytic treatment cannot be dispensed as a standardised clinical practice or in a formulaic way. This is because the workings and pathological effects of the unconscious are unique for each of us. The treatment respects and preserves the singularity of the individual subject whose situation cannot be reduced to a generalised abstraction or compared with anyone else’s situation.

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