B1 Intermediate UK 395 Folder Collection
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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.
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What is Psychoanalysis? Part 1: Is it Weird?

395 Folder Collection
Christina Yang published on July 26, 2018
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