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  • Well it is weird!

  • I think it's extremely weird!

  • Definitely weird. No question about that.

  • It's weird because

  • what it's thinking about

  • what it's addressing

  • is the nature of being human.

  • It's addressing the parts that

  • we don't normally reach.

  • It's weird because it deals with

  • stuff that goes on out of the daylight

  • it's a night-time activity.

  • It's dreams. It's sexuality.

  • It's mistakes we make.

  • It's the world of sexual fantasy.

  • It's the world of perhaps the dark thoughts,

  • a spooky world.

  • It's about the hidden things

  • the things particularly that you keep

  • hidden from yourself.

  • Psychoanalysis is a talking cure

  • but it would be more correct to ask the question:

  • 'What are psychoanalyses?'

  • because there are lots of different versions.

  • What they probably all have in common is that

  • it's a practice of talking.

  • One the things that all these psychoanalyses

  • have in common is an idea of

  • something called 'the unconscious'.

  • Sometimes we think about the unconscious

  • as being some deep reservoir

  • some place in your head

  • where things are buried.

  • Freud once said that he had more

  • archaeology books than psychology books.

  • His view was that the mind was structured by layers

  • like in archaeological digs

  • and when he was excavating his patients' minds

  • it was just like an archaeologist digging down

  • and discovering fragments from a long-lost time.

  • Now the analyst doesn't work with stones

  • the fragments he works with are bits of memories,

  • fantasies, infantile wishes,

  • and he pieces those together with the analysand

  • to construct the early history of the analysand

  • that has become buried

  • but that still is a foundation of his adult life

  • and particularly of any symptoms

  • he might have developed.

  • So someone might come with a symptom

  • let's say a problem in sleeping,

  • a disturbance in their relation to eating,

  • a sexual practice that they find disturbing,

  • thoughts that overwhelm them that aren't welcome.

  • Through talking about these

  • and through tracing their history

  • the person might encounter elements

  • from their own history

  • perhaps from their family history

  • and through talking about them,

  • through articulating them,

  • there'll be a change to the symptom

  • there'll be change to that person's life

  • there'll be a change to that person's

  • experience of suffering.

  • Patients ask me when they come in:

  • 'Well is that all we are doing? Just talking?

  • How is this going to help me with my

  • panic attack in the supermarket?'

  • Well, it helps because we assume that

  • behind the panic attack are some unconscious motives

  • and language can function like a lift

  • where words can lift other words and other meanings

  • from the level of the unconscious

  • to consciousness.

  • So, take an example:

  • A woman had told me that the previous day

  • she had been cutting roses in her garden.

  • 'Red roses', she said - she emphasised red roses.

  • So I became alert to this, I asked her

  • what she thought about red roses.

  • She said: 'Ah! I remember my father's funeral,

  • where his second wife threw a red rose

  • into his grave

  • as a token of love.'

  • And at that moment she felt a pang of pain,

  • a pang of jealousy.

  • So the word 'rose', an innocent word,

  • had drawn up from the unconscious

  • the word 'funeral'

  • through a chain of associations

  • and with the word 'funeral'

  • a whole completely different story was connected

  • than the original one about cutting roses.

  • That's how psychoanalysis works.

  • The Freudian human being

  • is a human being who

  • is not in control

  • of him or herself.

  • Freud famously said:

  • 'The ego is not master in his own house'.

  • The house in which the ego lives

  • is, you could say, it's a haunted house.

  • You try to be in control of your living space

  • but you're not.

  • It's the unconscious that controls us.

  • Contemporary culture likes to see human beings

  • as one dimensional:

  • they're governed by instrumental ends

  • the search for happiness

  • for wealth, for success

  • as if human desire can be reduced to simple objects.

  • Psychoanalysis, on the contrary,

  • sees desires as emerging

  • in the gaps in speech,

  • in the cracks in what you're saying,

  • in your mistakes, in your slips of the tongue,

  • in the failures that you repeat

  • again and again in life.

  • If something's been forced into the unconscious

  • and it tries to come back

  • as whatever it can express itself as

  • or however it can manifest itself

  • then something like a slip of the tongue would be that.

  • If the unconscious bursts out

  • in other ways that are more difficult

  • like you always

  • you know, you feel violent towards

  • any woman that you begin to get

  • attached to or something

  • then maybe that's going to cause

  • a lot more problems in your life.

  • Many psychiatric and cognitive approaches

  • today to human suffering

  • see people's symptoms as mistakes,

  • as errors, as deviations

  • as maladjustments

  • with the aim of medical intervention or therapy

  • being to correct them,

  • to bring the person back to the norm,

  • to get rid of their symptoms.

  • The cognitive approach is that you identify

  • as it were 'pathological elements' in the mind

  • and then you have a programme of correction

  • of those pathological elements

  • through additional mental work.

  • Psychoanalysis has a very different approach:

  • symptoms aren't there to be got rid of,

  • they're there to be listened to, to be heard

  • with idea that a symptom isn't a mistake,

  • a learning error, but rather a clue

  • to that person's individual truth.

Well it is weird!

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What is Psychoanalysis? Part 1: Is it Weird?

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