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  • Maria R. de Almeida

What is Psychoanalysis?


Since Freud “discovered’ the concept of the Unconscious and the Psychoanalysis was born in 1900 with the publication of “The Interpretaron of Dreams”, Psychoanalysis has been constantly accused of being unscientific, inmoral and little oriented to healing.

I will try to help you understand the truth behind these unfounded criticisms, prejudices and misunderstandings.

Let’s first establish a clear distinction: Psychology and Psychiatry do not take into account the unconscious, only the consciousness. On the contrary, Psychoanalysis FOCUSES on the unconscious.

Unconscious is the only way to access reality but… by definition: unconscious is the ¨knowledge unknown". Unconscious only objective is to show up: it doesn´t care about (rational) logic, moral or convenience. Thats why by definition, people don´t want to know about it and hence repression and mental issues, failure, poverty and pain. For the Unconscious, contradiction does not exist. It has its own laws. It never stops.

We can not see the Unconscious, it is no where. We can only see his effects: a dream, a symptom, a joke, a slip… This is how the Unconscious “talks”. The Unconscious doesn’t pre- exit, it has to be built by interpretation. This is what the psychoanalyst does during the session. The patient associates freely and the psychoanalyst builds, interprets the Unconscious of that particular individual.

According to Freud, the human being is led by his Unconscious wish. This unconscious wish is what keeps the human being alive: “we dream to continue wishing while we are asleep”.

We all wish in the same way. What makes the difference between mentally sick and healthy individuals is the way in which we renounce to the unconscious wish.

Mental illness (Neurosis, Psychosis, Hysteria, Phobia, Depression, Psychosomatic illness…) are different psychic positions/estructures the individual undertakes against a human unbearable truth. When the individual faces a reality he can not tolerate, the individual gets sick and build a Neurosis, a Psychosis… in order to escape from reality and avoid facing it.

According to Freud:

- A neurotic, is the individual who does not transform a reality he knows. He suppress it.

- Psychotic, is the individual who transforms a reality he does not know. He foreclosures it. He creates a new reality where whatever he cant tolerate is not there.

A normal human being is the individual who knowing reality, is able to transform it.

The objective of Psychoanalysis is to analyse, not to cure. The cure is just a secondary benefit. Psychoanalysis leads to self - knowledge and allows the individual to transform himself (and the reality around him).

What really matters to Psychoanalysis is the SPEECH of the patient, not the dreams. Freud had been criticised to have discovered the Unconscious working with his hysterical patients. So to prove his discovery of the Unconscious (and generalise the theory), he used the dreams, why? Because we ALL dream: healthy and sick individuals. Freud proved with the dreams that the speech of a normal individual is determined in the same way as the speech of a sick one.

Freud has been constantly accused of pansexualism. However, the term “sexuality/sexual” used by Freud is way wider than “genitality”. “Sexual” according to Freud, refers to everything touch by the word, all the possible human relationships: with our boss, with our mother, with a husband, with someone younger, older… work relationships, personal relationships… The way we interact with other human beings, the way we love or hate), the way we choose our loved ones, all in all, the way we live is determined by the position we hold once we have gone through the Oedipus complex: process we all need to go through in order to become human beings.

According to Freud, a healthy human being is “ the one capable of working and loving”.

Psychoanalysis is not to treat past wounds but to live better the years to come. It doesn’t matter where you are coming from but where you are going.

Only the next step matters.


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