Psychoanalysis

Psychoanalysis has become a bad word in the US as a result of a massive negative PR campaign by pharmaceutical companies that want people to be hooked on medication and, consequently, abhor any method that can help people get better (actually, get amazingly, ecstatically well) drug-free. I’m not talking only about psychotropic medication, of course. I’m talking about all forms of physical and psychological ailments that most people address with drugs.

This is why I’m very happy to see that psychoanalysis is finally getting out of the dungeon where it had been driven by the pharmaceutical companies and becoming more mainstream.

Feministe, for example, has just started a series of guest posts by a psychoanalist who has the following to say:

We can, like the psychoanalysts, understand madness as an experience of personal history, with symptoms being the expressions of things otherwise incommunicable. Each of these understandings come with values and dictate very different forms of treatment.

Personally, I stand with psychoanalysis. My own view of symptoms is that they are a complicated interaction between the things someone had to do to survive trauma, the ways they have found to communicate these experiences which are not readily spoken, and the taboos which rob patients of their voice. Because of this, I don’t really treat symptoms. I avoid telling patients to stop doing this or start doing that and engage with the symptoms as if they were a part of the conversation in the same way that body language or metaphor might be worth observing.

Great job, Feministe!

I can only discuss psychoanalysis as an analysand, so my perspective is obviously much less useful than that of Feministe’s guest speaker. I just want to mention the following things in order to help clarify some misconceptions about psychoanalysis:

1. A psychoanalyst does not diagnose or tell people what to do. The very concept of a diagnosis is alien to psychoanalysis. Many people say that they are afraid to go to a psychoanalyst because they don’t want to be assigned a bunch of diagnoses. This is ridiculous because a psychoanalyst is pretty much the only kind of a specialist who will not do anything of the kind.

And if you fear that the analyst will tell you something like “you suffer from a heightened degree of immaturity due to the fact that your parents were overprotective and you are in love with your father”, then get over that silly myth already. In analysis, you will claw the walls and hang from the chandelier, begging the analyst to tell you what to think, but the son of a gun never will. Because answers only work if you arrive at them on your own.

2. Bluntly put, a psychotherapist charges you to tell you what you want to hear, while a psychoanalyst charges you for getting you to say what you don’t want to hear. People go to therapists for years and decades because all a therapist does is make you feel good by temporarily relieving your anxieties. Until you need the next fix.

3. If you want regular psychological support that involves no major transformation of your personality, go to a therapist. If you want to work like a dog, sweat and cry but achieve dramatic breakthroughs, go to an analyst.

4. As the analyst I quoted says, a symptom (of any illness, not just mental disease) is a way that your body has to communicate that something wrong is happening. You can dismiss this signal by getting rid of the symptom by taking medication, which, of course, does nothing to remove the original problem. Or you can work with an analyst to remove the underlying cause.

5. Yes, it really works.

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102 comments on “Psychoanalysis

  1. From where I sit, I would argue that you are at least 95% correct. I think there are a very small number of people who suffer from a chemical problem involving neurotransmitters. I suspect these could be corrected by dietary changes, if people took the time to do so. (For example, eating more eggs will get ones acetylcholine levels normalized, IIRC.) But it would take a lot of time to work out each case, since there is almost certainly no one-size-fits-all solution. However, drugs mostly mask symptoms and make things worse, eventually, but meanwhile the drug companies have made a lot of money, and you don’t get a refund if they don’t help.

    I am not so sure about your stark distinction between psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. Some people stay in both for decades.

    • Yes, there is a place for distinction between physical and psychological origins.
      While Psychoanalysis believes historical underlying causes need to be addressed, solution-focused and CBT professionals believe there is no need to consult the past. Neither of these styles of therapy require or promote drugs, neither tell the client what to do, and the emphasis on history is minimal to none for the most part.

      Drugs are far too often overprescribed for those issues that, like David says are potentially nutrient deficiencies, or even food sensitivities.

      Depression and Anxiety are epidemic and there are many causes underlying these, to think that people who seek counseling could all be healed by a psychoanalyst is 1. euro-centric and 2. incorrect.

      This type of healing could be actually harmful to some who hold a different worldview.

      Glad to hear your experience helped you, it has it’s place in the profession, and there are reasons why there are other models of therapeutic intervention available.

      • “Depression and Anxiety are epidemic ”

        – No, they aren’t because they are not contagious. Let’s use the correct terminology. I think you wanted to say “widespread.” I also wonder why you are regaling these words with capital letters. Usually the word God is capitalized this way and pretty much nothing else outside from names.

    • “I am not so sure about your stark distinction between psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. Some people stay in both for decades.”

      – Good point. Many people have trouble overcoming their rigidity and resistance. And as a result, the process can, indeed, last forever.

  2. Well I am one of those people who suffered from severe clinical depression (a chemical problem with neurotransmitters). I willingly decided to take meds, which helped, so it has made me a believer–at least for my condition. No one wakes up wanting to be clinically depressed. I also work out and exercise, take some vitamins and eat a balanced, healthy diet and I still suffered occasional bouts of clinical depression.

    I don’t tend offer advice to other people about what they should do or shouldn’t do, basically because of the crappy, inappropriate advice that I’ve been on the receiving end of and as a result have become intolerant towards people who try to offer it. I’m very skeptical of anyone in the “alternative health fields” given that I favor and lean towards evidence-based science–not junk science. I mean someone suggesting a colon cleanse as a treatment for clinical depression or severe allergies I would regard as a QUACK, yet those types of people abound.

    I’m not of the opinion that all drugs make things worse. I’ve taken some that do help and are beneficial. I’m also not so sure about the distinction you make between psychoanalysis and psychotherapy and why would it matter if someone stays in either or both for decades anyway, if they have few other resources available to them–emotional support. A good many families are very under-resourced for the problems that they encounter and many people’s responses are not very helpful. At any rate I do believe one has to shop around to find a good qualified therapist/counselor and the differences between the individual’s in the profession can be huge. I’ve personally had some rough experiences in that regard of which are too long-winded to get into here.

  3. Private Miss: I agree about junk science. However, a lot of what drug companies pass off as science is anything but. It should be regarded as propaganda, not science, unless and until it is verified by independent scientists not dependent on drug companies to support their research. This is all too rare.

    • “However, a lot of what drug companies pass off as science is anything but. It should be regarded as propaganda, not science, unless and until it is verified by independent scientists not dependent on drug companies to support their research.”

      I agree that being verified by independent scientists is the way to go.

  4. My mom is a therapist and I don’t think she tells people what they want to hear at all. If anything, she tells them what they don’t want to hear.

      • Me too. I’ve tried the same strategy with different people in my life and have found that if you are seeking popularity….well having the knack of being open and honest, with tact, isn’t generally too well received, despite the need for it. That’s why I’m such a loner.

        Some people still do love me.

      • Haha yeah. It’s handy to have a therapist in the family–free therapy! But I know what you mean, there are a lot of unqualified people out there. I think most people giving therapy need it themselves! hah

  5. I think that the alternative health industry is pretty heavy on the propaganda as well and as far as I’m concerned I would be in favor of greater, exacting regulations on that industry–the sort of crap and shit I’ve experienced from people in that industry beggars description. They do a lot of damage. As far as allergies and food sensitivies–I suffer with them–severe issues to be exact with allergies and the problem I have is not related to the clinical depression that I suffered from either.

    • It’s a term applied to various people selling services–everything from vitamins and massage to colonics, chiropractors and cleanse’s,etc. and it is heavily based on dispensing advice based on diet, etc. For instance I see a hair-stylist and she is very anti-western medicine and I shared with her my some of my issues with severe allergies and she talks of liver cleanses and how they made all of her allergies disappear,etc. Magazines promoting natural health, etc. tend to cater to people who seek out these other “therapeutic interventions” and most of these people tend to view western medincine as highly suspect. So you then have people touting vitamins as a cure-all to cancer and just about everything else.

  6. While I’m on that subject I believe that there is a website called, Quack Watch, that is devoted to the subject of said, quackery and it contains a section that talks about the government action taken against some of these people and their propaganda.

  7. I feel like what a lot of people with milder mental illnesses (myself included) need is simply somebody to talk to. It’s just not easy to find people who are sympathetic and kind enough to allow you to discuss the deeper things-let alone able to add a little wisdom. Contrary to popular belief, psychotherapists virtually never engage in pure “talk therapy.” Usually instead they try to process you through a system of mental and emotional tricks to deal with your problems. It’s a completely dehumanizing process which has the effect of invalidating your experiences-like the problems you have are all in your reactions and never based in the world outside of you. I’ve had therapists who, after a year of working together, still didn’t understand or even want to understand just why certain things bothered me so much. So that’s my contribution; whatever the school of thought, I think we just need better human to human contact.

    And in my experience, psychotherapists definitely don’t tell you what you want to hear, they generally do ask you to come to your own solutions.

    • And you share a very good example of individual needs in therapy and a good match of therapeutic style. There are many out there but some practitioners favor one over another. “I think we just need better human to human contact” speaks volumes, from my perspective of the broader reasons of high rates of anxiety and depression. Community is underrated in our society.

      • “Community is underrated in our society.”

        – It is hugely hugely overrated. I can’t hear the word without having nervous hiccups any more because it’s everywhere and it always means nothing.

    • “It’s a completely dehumanizing process which has the effect of invalidating your experiences-like the problems you have are all in your reactions and never based in the world outside of you.”

      This is what I’ve noticed, too, about that and it surprises me that more people don’t.

  8. bloggerclarissa :
    There is nothing more Western than psychoanalysis, so it’s definitely not one of those alternative things.

    Out of curiosity is psychoanalysis regarded as suspect in your culture or is that too broad of a question?

    • “Out of curiosity is psychoanalysis regarded as suspect in your culture or is that too broad of a question”

      – It’s getting more and more popular. I was convinced to start my own analysis after spending a while on a Russian psychoanalytic forum, for example.

      • I can’t tell if you are being serious or funny or both?

        My early life experiences and added experiences of people (in general) convinced me too. Nut-inducing encounters with other human beings can do that to a person. I’m normal….you’re not….ahahahaha

        • And what I meant by that is people always fronting that they are the “normal ones” as in, “my way or the highway” attitudes and their belief that everyone else is insane or their beliefs and opinions have no merit….just in case it wasn’t clear.

  9. oh and I think the obsession with diagnoses just has to do with the realities of insurance. Companies don’t pay for treatment of sad or confused, but they still cover generalized anxiety disorder or borderline personality disorder. So pretty much the moment youre in the door you need a diagnosis or you can’t afford to return

      • That’s all well and good, but as a grad student I have zero extra income or extra time to take on more work- I already need to be creative and do without most non-essentials. Same with many “working poor” especially those with young kids struggling to afford daycare. This has always bugged me.

        • I hear you, Isabel. When I was in the last year of my grad program, I often had no money even to take the bus, let alone for luxuries like an analyst. And I was severely depressed. It was really really bad. There are, however, techniques of psychological hygiene one can still use either to supplement the meds or, if one is anti-med, then on their own. Doing anything creative, for example. Writing was very helpful for me. I just wrote and wrote, for hours, for days. Cooking, gardening, walking in the forest, religious practices – these things can be very helpful.

      • Yes, this is one of the things about it that I most mistrust – the idea seems manipulative, authoritarian, condescending. The idea that you should be stretching your budget, going into debt, giving up your gym membership, etc., to pay high prices to someone whose skills you haven’t had a chance to judge yet – and to be told that if you’re not willing to do those things, you’re not serious – seems really abusive to me.

        • @titfortat–I took medication, like I stated above and it didn’t work like sugar pill for me. It was very helpful to me.

          Believe what you want–your choice, your health, your life…

      • @private miss

        I will believe what I believe. You obviously did too, from a statstically point that is why your medication worked as well as a sugar pill. Hopefully you didnt get any side effects.

        • The side-effects for me were relief and a happier existence. Also, Kirsch never said that everyone experiences a placebo effect and the drugs don’t help anyone. What he said was that people with mild to moderate depression don’t seem to get much value out of the medication because their results are similar to the placebo. He never said people with a correct diagnosis of a serious mental illnesses like major depressive disorder are not getting benefits from the drugs. You had to listen very carefully and decipher exactly what he was saying. It is disappointing that the story was sensationalized enough to confuse this point.

          I also think many people would be inclined to agree that Americans are often too willing to pop a pill to fix their woes when something else that requires more effort might do just as good a job or better (such as diet, exercise, meditation or other lifestyle changes). Those people are probably suffering from mild depression and that is the difference. I don’t doubt that people who are only mildly depressed are getting prescriptions for powerful psychoactive drugs when other treatment options, especially talk therapy, are probably a better and safer route.

      • The side-effects for me were relief and a happier existence.(Private miss)

        Excellent, I hope you are equally pleased for the one’s who had the same benefit from the placebo.

    • I really believe that for people with severe conditions, drugs can be a life-saver. My roommate in college had sever bipolar disorder, and medication was the only way she could lead anything close to a normal life. Same story for my friend with schizophrenia. If he doesn’t take his medication he gets hallucinations. Before medications like these existed, these people would be confined to wards all their lives. I’ve heard of others with severe OCD, tourette’s, panic attacks etc. that have been greatly aided by medication.

      The problem is, as Private Miss said, that most people who get prescriptions have mild to moderate depression and the drugs really aren’t meant for that, but they can help even in those cases depending on the drug. Besides, most people who take medication also undergo extensive therapy. I’m not quite clear on the difference between therapy and psychoanalysis. For me, therapy was always talking about how I make choices in my life and talking about my childhood.

      • Psychoanalysis has a great track record of dealing with bipolar disorders without the horrible side effects that bipolar meds produce.

        “Before medications like these existed, these people would be confined to wards all their lives.”

        – This is one of the myths that pharma companies want us to believe.

  10. Elizabeth,

    “I feel like what a lot of people with milder mental illnesses (myself included) need is simply somebody to talk to. It’s just not easy to find people who are sympathetic and kind enough to allow you to discuss the deeper things-let alone able to add a little wisdom.”

    I tend to agree, although I will add that this is true for a variety of reasons–about finding appropriate people to talk too. As far as suffering from a milder form of depression (you said mental illness, so I’m unsure what you are exactly referring to) –for some people mild, if left untreated, can become more serious over time. It happened to someone that I love. They refused treatment for depression and eventually it turned into a full blown psychosis with paranoid delusions. Once that occurs people generally do not go back to how they were previously (for lack of a better way to say this).

    “Contrary to popular belief, psychotherapists virtually never engage in pure “talk therapy.”

    I’ve been seeing and currently still see a psychiatrist who engages in pure “talk therapy”. I’m unaware of her processing or using any emotional tricks to get me to deal with anything, but then what I’m seeing her for has to do with the difficulties I face in dealing with a relative who suffers paranoid delusions and also that reality is coupled with some of my own intense health issues. I don’t think she views me as someone who isn’t coping, but as someone with few resources of people who are actually helpful in my situation, especially the lack of appropriate people who can offer some form of empathy and who are able to engage in intelligent problem-solving. It has left me feeling quite isolated, alone, stressed and very unresourced.

  11. Nietzsche was my “psychoanalyst”, at least in the first instance. The limitations of Nietzsche are that he does not deal with the question of patriarchy. Like many a contemporary male, he sees no particular problem with this in terms of causing mental health issues. He is prone to essentialise gender.

    Marechera was my second, much deeper and more self-aware “psychoanalyst”. He deals with issues both of race and gender. One understands, through him, how society is constructed in such a way that both race and gender constrain and determine psychological development. Marechera comes from my culture, which is also more primitive than that of European of contemporary Western culture. My problems were sourced in this culture, not in Western culture, which meant that Western therapists had not the background knowledge that would have enabled them to get to the bottom of anything. As a result, there was meaningless talking around the issue — or, if pressed concerning the urgency of finally addressing my issues, the therapists would become extremely abusive.

    • As I said, JFA, you do martial arts and practice shamanism. This means you are the last person in the world to need psychoanalysis. You achieve the psychoanalytic goals through much more potent means. This post was really not aimed at people like you. It was aimed at people like me.

      Of course, your participation is highly appreciated.

  12. One final point (because it’s hard to remember a mental state that one no longer has). My issue was not rigidity of character structure (which of course, means it is, from the point of view of I’m telling you what something isn’t and therefore revealing what it is). However, my issue was not the inability to face something (aha! My issue must have been that!) but was actually pent up emotion and the internalization of trauma as being normal, from the war that surrounded me as I was growing up.

    Actually, my problems were not the opposite to anything I said they were (which, of course, means they were). I just needed someone to listen and to understand that my issues were not related to morality, but to trauma that I’d internalized. (Which, of course, means I needed to be hit over the head, really fast and continuously, with my putative “moral” failings).

    Anyway, it was Marechera who wrote lucidly about the issue of internalized trauma. This helped me understand that my attitudes and sensations were quite normal, according to the historical context of my situation.

    I had to write a PhD to understand this, which was almost impossible to understand because society is patriarchal. For instance, to quote one’s father –“my father said this about me”–is to provide the fodder for a diagnosis. Fathers know best, even if my father was three times more traumatized than me and was trying to pass off his issues through projective identification. Iatrogenic illness, anyone?

    The better psychoanalysts do seem to realise that the imputation that women necessarily “lie” all the time is in fact past of the psychodynamics of society at large. See: http://www.amazon.com/Bitter-Milk-Teaching-Madeleine-Grumet/dp/087023613X

    But treating individual women (or indeed, women collectively) as if we’re just making s*t up is extremely traumatizing and disempowering.

    I realise, in an ideal world, psychoanalysis would treat nobody in this way.

    • I honestly can’t imagine a psychoanalyst who can possibly subscribe to “father knows best” philosophy. An analysis starts with the need to bring one’s parents under critical scrutiny as a way of becoming a mature individual in one’s own right. People who can’t move past the mythology fed them by their parents have no hope of successfully completing analysis.

      • Oh well, my experience with people of the psychoanalytic school, as well as another therapist (who knows what school he claimed to come from, but he had a deep need to impose moral norms) has been anything but good. These guys have a heavy moral agenda, although dressed up as a concern from truth.

  13. bloggerclarissa :
    As I said, JFA, you do martial arts and practice shamanism. This means you are the last person in the world to need psychoanalysis. You achieve the psychoanalytic goals through much more potent means. This post was really not aimed at people like you. It was aimed at people like me.
    Of course, your participation is highly appreciated.

    Oh, ok. Could be true. I did need deep therapy, but I got that for myself a ways back by doing my PhD. I got to the bottom of my psyche at that point.

      • The shamanism did in particular. Actually if people want to act all morally superior about my use of the word, “patriarchy”, they should realise that shamanism takes you to a very base level of skepticism, especially and above all about the value of moral posturing. One realises that all moral posturing is based in fear alone.

  14. Titfortat :
    Ahhh, the big bad patriarchy. You might want to take a note from mom’s wisdom. Nobody can walk on you unless you lie down.

    Yeah, that is the skeptical note hit by those who came down heavily on me with their patriarchal agenda — implying that father knows best and that I was just being a hysterical woman. They acted as if what I needed was a heavy helping of morality and to learn how to conform unquestioningly.

    It’s bigger and badder than I ever expected it to be.

  15. implying that father knows best and that I was just being a hysterical woman.(scratchy)

    Or maybe some people just think youre a very bright woman who is a little whacked. Just saying.

  16. Titfortat :
    implying that father knows best and that I was just being a hysterical woman.(scratchy)
    Or maybe some people just think youre a very bright woman who is a little whacked. Just saying.

    yeah, totally out of my tree. Would you like to share a banana or three?

  17. Titfortat :
    Of course, that is one of the joys of banter.

    Yeah, you can wander off with all the treasure of taking literally anything said ironically. Not that I’m saying you will do so — but there is always that temptation if things turn bad or you feel the other person might be getting the upper hand.

  18. Lamestllama :
    I might ironically take an ironic statement literally if doing so would be funnier.

    Shamanism is a modality that mixes the recognition of extreme trauma with a mode of speaking that is extremely ironic. It’s not to everybody’s taste and is indeed confusing, since most people believe that genuine injustices ought to be taken seriously and with the greatest sense of moral deliberation.

    Shamans are, however, “wrecked out of their wounds”, which means that they’ve reached a base level of such extreme skepticism about morality and its capacity to do any good that they can only treat the world ironically henceforth.

  19. Excellent text.

    As a psychoanalyst I would like to point out a few things:

    First of all: A Psychoanalyst will never tell you what to do. He will almost never tell you what he thinks about this or that. Not only because the answer is only valuable if you reach it by yourself. But mainly because analysts don’t know the answer. Nobody knows the answer. We just assume that. But the answer exist and we help our patients to find them.

    Second: Psychotherapy means a lot of different techniques. Some will be closer to psychoanalytic ethic, some will not.

    Third: Drugs can be good or bad. The problem I think is: Mental pathologies are not like organic ones. Propaganda is trying to make everybody thinks that depression (or any other) are like Diabetes. You have it, its genetic and you’ll die with it, but it can be controlled with drugs. The same with bipolar, schizophrenia, you name it. My point is: That is NOT true. Or perhaps, take a minute to think that MAYBE it’s not true. Maybe, they decided that depression is like diabetes because THEY couldn’t find a cure for it. Instead of assuming defeat, they are blaming the illness or the ill person.

    Fourth: There are a unique field of study about what is science and what is not, and it’s called Epistemology. Beware that biology and psychiatry are base on the positivist method and that this is only ONE type of science with benefits and LIMITATIONS. Positivism will no answer everything. Thomas Kuhn and Karl Popper are GREAT epistemologists.

    Thanks.
    Avoid trying to get simple answers for life. Life IS complex and it should treated as such

      • You’re welcome. I just feel bad that I’m not fluent in english. I could have made a much better comment in portuguese!

        As for the pill lovers, they are really strange to me. We don’t have that drug supremacy here in Brazil.

        Here’s a small tale: In 1909, Freud traveled to the US on an invitation from Clark University. At that time, there were great expectations on Freud’s lectures Just when they arrived at the New York harbor, Freud turned to Jung and said: “They don’t realize we’re bringing them the plague”.

        • “You’re welcome. I just feel bad that I’m not fluent in english.”

          – Your English is perfect, Artur.

          “As for the pill lovers, they are really strange to me. We don’t have that drug supremacy here in Brazil.”

          – The pill craze is very specific to the United States. And so is the stigma placed on psychoanalysis here. :-(

  20. Z :

    Yes, this is one of the things about it that I most mistrust – the idea seems manipulative, authoritarian, condescending. The idea that you should be stretching your budget, going into debt, giving up your gym membership, etc., to pay high prices to someone whose skills you haven’t had a chance to judge yet – and to be told that if you’re not willing to do those things, you’re not serious – seems really abusive to me.

    Everybody is free to do whatever they like. It isn’t like I’m forcing everybody into analysis. I’m just informing people that there is an alternative to gulping dangerous chemical rubbish. Once, somebody informed me of this alternative and I am forever grateful.

    Last week, I shared with a colleague that I was having very vivid and detailed dreams. Her advice was that I should take an ANTI-DEPRESSANT. When I responded that I was anti-drug and tried to change the topic, she kept insisting.

    I get people recommending this dangerous garbage to me for no reason at all all the time. Yet nobody suggests that they are abusive.

    Then I publish a single post on a non-medical alternative to this vile stupid chemical junk, and I’m suddenly the huge abuser here. I’m surrounded by pill lovers everywhere who like nothing more than enumerating their prescriptions. As a result, there is no space for me to talk about my anti-drug worldview. I tried but the pill-lovers throw hissy fits.

    Can I at least be allowed to discuss this on my own blog? And pill-lovers can compose paeans to their scrips on their blogs.

  21. Artur Cortez :
    You’re welcome. I just feel bad that I’m not fluent in english. I could have made a much better comment in portuguese!

    I think a lot of people who read this blog read Spanish and would be able to understand a comment in Portuguese.

  22. Z :
    “It’s a completely dehumanizing process which has the effect of invalidating your experiences-like the problems you have are all in your reactions and never based in the world outside of you.”
    This is what I’ve noticed, too, about that and it surprises me that more people don’t.

    Definitely, definitely. But this doesn’t just apply to “therapists” but also to do-gooders who would make out that what you have experienced is entirely in your head.

    My response is to test whether what they say could be true under any circumstances. If they want me to laugh it off when people treat me badly, are they equally able to laugh it off?

    If they want to act as if what I say has no meaningful content, how do they feel, themselves, when what they say is dismissed in the same manner?

    Perhaps there are some people who are, indeed, superhuman, and handle any sort of situation without sensation.

    I actually allow for this possibility.

    • The now common idea, though, that “no one should be able to hurt your feelings” is ridiculous.

      On the idea that everything is in your head: I interviewed (saw a few times to “try on,” essentially) a therapist once who was not on my insurance plan and whose fee was high enough that to see him I had to cancel some other activities that are good for me but that also cost money.

      I decided his schtick was not for me, at least not at that price, and so quit, saying I really thought that I needed the things I’d sacrificed to see him more than I did his kind of therapy. He said, and I quote, that I might do well to remember that money was “just paper.”

      I asked whether he would be willing to accept paper that wasn’t paper money as payment and he was not amused.

      • “He said, and I quote, that I might do well to remember that money was “just paper.””

        – I don’t want to be pedantic but an analyst would never say something like this because money is a lot more than paper and even than money in analysis. Just sayin’.

  23. “And so is the stigma placed on psychoanalysis here.”

    Do you think it’s (also – in addition to the influence of big pharma) because analysis appears to assume some kind of intellectual activity, and some kind of awareness on the part of the analysand … as opposed to US psychotherapy which appears much of the time to assume real childishness, utter lack of awareness, etc. – ?

    *

    Re patriarchal psychoanalysis (above, comment from JFA) … how about Lacan? (There’s a patriarch for you – especially in person, it was beyond belief, so authoritarian and so entitled.) Anyway, very interesting on the assumption that women lie, JFA, I’m going to get the book you reference and think about this.

  24. Z :

    Re patriarchal psychoanalysis (above, comment from JFA) … how about Lacan?

    I’ve had someone attack me with Lacan, before — and I will say that I learned from the experience that the ideal state of mind for someone who takes a Lacanian stance is to be entirely without empathy. Lack of empathy is presumed to equate to objectivity, just as subjectivity is imputed to imply inner corruption or childishness (which are also equated).

    This posture of lacking empathy puts the “therapist” in a supremely, indeed binary position of dominance over the client/patient.

    The only healthy recourse for the client, in this situation, is to also lose his or her empathy in relation to the practitioner. Lose the emotional connection. Break it.

    Or you will never be free.

    • “The only healthy recourse for the client, in this situation, is to also lose his or her empathy in relation to the practitioner. Lose the emotional connection. Break it.”

      – Every analyst knows how to work with transference.

  25. Z :
    The now common idea, though, that “no one should be able to hurt your feelings” is ridiculous.

    If nobody is able to hurt my feelings, then I am a sociopath.

    Sociopathy is considered to be an ideal state by many of those who haven’t grown up yet.

    Take a wade through the fields of comments placed on articles explaining narcissistic personality disorder and the like and you will find those proclaiming, “I’m a sociopath. Watch out for me! I’m not what you think. I’ve evolved.”

    • “Take a wade through the fields of comments placed on articles explaining narcissistic personality disorder and the like and you will find those proclaiming, “I’m a sociopath. Watch out for me! I’m not what you think. I’ve evolved.””

      – I knew a guy (he was Australian, actually) who kept insisting that he was a sociopath like this image of himself really mattered to him. In reality, though, he was a quiet, bookish grad school nerd who cried in movies.

  26. bloggerclarissa :
    “Yes. And, I think *Lacan* was a sociopath.”
    – Hear, hear!!! And Lacanians are even worse.

    But like all false systems of ideology, including patriarchy itself, they can be foiled by using their own systems of reasoning against them. This is called psychological judo.

    The Lacanian pronounces, “Woman does not exist!” and thus expects you — a female – -to represent his subjectivity for him, but to have no other existence.

    He’s set you up to play a slavish role for him, but the correct response is simply to deny the partnership he wants to make, and to cease to exist for him.

    Then, it becomes starkly clear that whatever he says, does or thinks, he has only his own projections of “woman” to deal with — the alienation of his subjectivity by himself.

    I can’t think of much less pleasant than that — especially when he was vying for a sado-masochistic relationship and ends up performing his masochism on and for himself.

    • “But like all false systems of ideology, including patriarchy itself, they can be foiled by using their own systems of reasoning against them.”

      – It never worked for me. Lacanians are very good at denying the obvious and somehow suggesting that you must be slightly insane even to address the issue. Scary people.

      “The Lacanian pronounces, “Woman does not exist!” and thus expects you — a female – -to represent his subjectivity for him, but to have no other existence.”

      – And then he adds, “But it’s a good thing!” I have learned to reply, “And you are such a jerk! But I mean it in the best possible way.”

      “Then, it becomes starkly clear that whatever he says, does or thinks, he has only his own projections of “woman” to deal with — the alienation of his subjectivity by himself.

      I can’t think of much less pleasant than that — especially when he was vying for a sado-masochistic relationship and ends up performing his masochism on and for himself.”

      – It’s like you met my ex-boyfriend, the Lacanian. It took me a long time to realize that he was not talking about me or to me. My existence was an echo of the strange things happening in his brain.

  27. bloggerclarissa :
    “He said, and I quote, that I might do well to remember that money was “just paper.””
    – I don’t want to be pedantic but an analyst would never say something like this because money is a lot more than paper and even than money in analysis. Just sayin’.

    Yes, money is shit. I read that somewhere, so it must be true.

  28. bloggerclarissa :
    – I knew a guy (he was Australian, actually) who kept insisting that he was a sociopath like this image of himself really mattered to him. In reality, though, he was a quiet, bookish grad school nerd who cried in movies.

    That’s how they inevitably are — a bit unsure with women, and extremely worried about how others perceive them.

  29. bloggerclarissa :
    “But like all false systems of ideology, including patriarchy itself, they can be foiled by using their own systems of reasoning against them.”
    – It never worked for me. Lacanians are very good at denying the obvious and somehow suggesting that you must be slightly insane even to address the issue. Scary people.

    **Very scary people. They are not able to have insight because they have divorced themselves from empathy, hence from insight. They are not related to the rest of the human race.

    My point was that the patriarchal attitude of narrow rationality is one that is actually inadequate in itself. Human beings cannot be narrowly rational. So the patriarchal posture is one that announces itself for being the opposite of what it is. It proclaims mastery, but it is actually incompleteness. It’s actually the alienation of wholeness, because it alienates human subjectivity and then must try to find it again outside of itself.

    The kind of people who do this are actually structurally incapable of coming to any sort of insight or realization about what they are trying to do, but that doesn’t mean they have made an effective fortress. They are still at a disadvantage. Very simply, they have built a defensive wall against knowledge around them. The correct military tactic is to allow them to remain in their fortress until they have no more nourishment to maintain their posture.

    Whatever you do, never ever feed them with any emotion or sympathy — which is what they’re expecting you to do.

    “The Lacanian pronounces, “Woman does not exist!” and thus expects you — a female – -to represent his subjectivity for him, but to have no other existence.”
    – And then he adds, “But it’s a good thing!” I have learned to reply, “And you are such a jerk! But I mean it in the best possible way.”

    **I’d be inclined to say, “You’re a good ape. This world needs more apes.

    “Then, it becomes starkly clear that whatever he says, does or thinks, he has only his own projections of “woman” to deal with — the alienation of his subjectivity by himself.
    I can’t think of much less pleasant than that — especially when he was vying for a sado-masochistic relationship and ends up performing his masochism on and for himself.”
    – It’s like you met my ex-boyfriend, the Lacanian. It took me a long time to realize that he was not talking about me or to me. My existence was an echo of the strange things happening in his brain.

    **Well that is the structure of patriarchy, itself. It alienates emotion and thenceforth can’t deal directly and effectively with the real world.

  30. bloggerclarissa :
    You seem very experienced in this sort of interactions, JFA. I’m taking notes here.

    I was mystified by patriarchy for a long time, then finally I understood its deep structure as the alienation of emotion and projection of it into women by men. Similarly with sexuality — sexuality is alienated as a property of men and projected into women. Thus women are deemed to be the cause of men behaving sexually.

  31. Z :
    JFA you have figured this out, it’s all true though hard to see.

    Oddly enough, Japanese patriarchy doesn’t do this. There’s no division of labor between emotion and reason. That seems to be Judeo-Christian only, and perhaps Islamic. Japanese men are very emotional in that they express a lot of irony concerning their circumstances. Japanese women are approximately the same, in most circumstances.

    That doesn’t mean they don’t have patriarchal issues, but the issues don’t impact on the psychology of everyday life in quite the same way.

    By the way, I exported my blog to wordpress. http://musteryou.wordpress.com/

  32. Back to psychotherapy – here is one nutshell version of what I didn’t like about it – fretting. It wanted you to fret. If you were not fretting, you were in denial. On the other hand, if you had a real issue to deal with, it was discounted as fretting.

    • That’s it! Everything back to front. Like if I tried to communicate something in all earnestness and not without a trace of desperation to be understood, that was discounted as meaningless trivia. However, if I just grew very tired and began to spew apelike verbiage, mostly because I had given up and just felt like being silly, these were taken as my deepest opinions and most heartfelt ideas.
      Everything back to front — which ultimately means honest self expression is punished and letting off steam is punished. Everything is punished.

  33. Also, on “getting you to say what you don’t want to hear” — they cleverly try to get you to do that, on the theory that whatever you don’t want to hear are truths you were hiding from.

  34. And finally, point 3 and last in this attempt to get my critique more and more concise, the assumption of low motives — for whatever you do, you must have a low motive that you won’t cop to. “Back to front” covers all of these points.

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