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Flavio's avatar

How do you feel about psychoanalysis?

Asked by Flavio (1107 points ) April 16th, 2010

Psychoanalysis and other long-term, open-ended psychodynamic therapies were once the main stay of psychiatric treatment. They still have a lot to offer, but are very maligned in medicine, psychiatry, and in the non-medical press. What do you all think about psychoanalysis? What do you know about it? Where did you learn what you know about it?

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33 Answers

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gorillapaws's avatar

I took a class called “Philosophy of Freud.” I was surprised to learn that he faked data and engaged in other intellectually dishonest behavior. I also remain suspicious of the parallels of psychoanalysis and psychic cold-reading techniques, not to mention the perils of confirmation bias.

I do think that there’s a very legitimate and real healing power that comes from genuinely connecting with a patient, trying to understand and help them with their psychological issues that the more objective colder behavioral psychology seems to be lacking.

After struggling with a rather nasty and prolonged case of depression myself, I’ve realized that the field of psychology is still in its infancy (maybe 2 notches past blood-letting). There’s a lot of trial-and-error approaches to medications and is really pretty crude. The inability to isolate variables, reliance on fallible self-reports and other less-than-reliable techniques and strategies made me loose a lot of faith in how it’s executed.

Not that there are any other alternatives. I just hope that more research, improved tools, and advancement in technology will help this field evolve faster.

susanc's avatar

What other alternatives?

gorillapaws's avatar

@susanc was that an answer to the question or directed at me?

ekans's avatar

@susanc and @gorillapaws
As for alternatives, there is the humanistic realm of psychology, which was created as a reaction to freud’s psychoanalytic field, as well as behaviorism.
If you are looking for genuine connection between patient and psychologist, humanism is the way to go. Humanists engage in client centered therapy, where clients are never given interpretations of their problem, nor are clients given any direction about what course of action to take to solve their problem. The therapist makes no attempts to change the client directly. Instead, the therapist tries to create an atmosphere in which the client may change him- or herself.

Humanism is just one of many subfields of psychology, ranging from behaviorism to biopsychology. I suggest that you check out wikipedia’s page about branches of psychology

As to answering the question at hand, I am highly critical of freud’s work, largely due to reasons stated by gorillapaws. I think that there is far too little evidence to support freud, and what little there is should be viewed with skepticism. To me, it seems that he just looked at the way people act and then made up a bunch of stuff trying to explain it, even though he had little scientific basis for it. Sadly, this is a criticism that I have with many of the psychological fields. Maybe it is just that I am too scientifically orientated, but I think that there really is a problem with the way that psychology is right now.

anartist's avatar

I think it’s lovely for letting your explore yourself and discover things and even try on certain Freudian concepts like “penis-envy” to see if they fit but for actual life changing, I’d plump for cognitive/behavioral therapy. I think psychoanalysis [besides being exorbitantly expensive] just lets one intellectualize problems rather than confront them at a gut level and change.
I had many years of both, first psychoanalysis, then later cognitive/behavioral. Got more out of the latter because the intellectualization was linked directly to plans for change.

Evan's avatar

It seems to me that there are a lot of misconceptions, and different interpretations of what “psychoanalysis” actually refers to.. It really goes beyond just Freud, and ultimately refers to just about any interaction with a psychologist in which they try to help you understand the mechanisms that are involved in your particular situation.

The several responses posted so far seem to emphasize Freudian psychology, and that’s really not the end-all-be-all of psychoanalysis.. For instance, Jungian psychology is very different, and extremely worthwhile.

Ultimately, the goal of psychoanalysis (especially when it’s not just Freud penis-envy crap) is to help the patient to better understand their own emotional and psychological operation, and to be able to better recognize their mental patterns. And from that perspective, I think that psychoanalysis is virtually essential to any greater understanding of oneself. While I’ve never had to actually partake in a session (since I grew up w/ a family of psychologists), I nonetheless have an in depth understanding of the workings of our brains from a Jungian perspective, and it has helped to to have a better understanding of myself overall.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Evan It’s still vulnerable to the problems stated earlier though such as confirmation bias, false memory syndrome, etc.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I think it has its place much like the discovery portion of a trial; you figure out what happened to get you where you are now. After that, though, you actually have to do something about your problems, change false beliefs and develop a true sense of self-worth, which is where the CBT comes in.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

As a PhD psychologist, I am very familiar with psychoanalysis. In my opinion, psychoanalysis is based on assumptions that have not and probably never will be validated empirically.

Cognitive-Behavioural and Behavioural approaches to treating mental disorders are more effective and more cost-effective than Psychoanalysis.

For those who believe in the notions of the unconscious and who have the resources to explore their unconscious mind through Psychoanalysis, they are certainly welcome to do so.

dpworkin's avatar

It makes me anxious. But enough about me. How do you feel?

LostInParadise's avatar

The emphasis today is on quick fixes. Take a pill, get six months of therapy and you will be cured. Psychiatrists have become pill dispensers with therapy being done by psychologists. That there is something wrong is apparent from depression being the most common psychological disorder coupled with the finding that, apart from cases of severe depression, the pills used are no more effective than placebos. Link

What was nice about Freudian and related treatments is that they were more open ended. The entire personality and life history of the individual was taken into consideration. It is my opinion that there is a benefit to spending time with any type of therapist who is willing to take the time to listen and who has insight into human behavior.

ucme's avatar

Essentially Bates was a rather pathetic figure. Hitchcock drew out the suspense as only he could.Rightly considered a cinematic classic of it’s time…..i’ve misunderstood haven’t I….ahem oh dear moving right along.

zophu's avatar

The human mind is the most complex thing we know exists. Yet, so much energy is put into oversimplifying it. (see above)

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I find any kind of “talking therapy” dubious. But then I have Aspergers Syndrome and find most F2F encounters so uncomfortable that nothing useful can come from it. My wife benefited greatly from talking therapy for her PTSD, but it wasn’t Freudian analysis. I think it was a form of cognitive behavioral therapy, it lasted several years. She was so impressed with the methods that she studied and became a psychologist herself.

Blondesjon's avatar

It all just boils down to whether or not you can be truly honest with yourself. In fact, no matter how much money you throw at therapy, until you decide to let go of your own bullshit and see yourself for what you are, you are just wasting your time and feeding your ego by laying on that couch.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@Blondesjon I agree to some extent. It’s not always an issue of honesty though. Some people are so deeply averse to interpersonal relationships that they could do just as well (or better) with a good book than with a therapist. For example, with high functional autism spectrum, a highly detailed instruction manual (with video adjuncts) would be much more useful with social skills than any F2F therapy. There is no embarassment factor in dealing with a manual or video, just memorize what you see and read.

mattbrowne's avatar

I think cognitive behavioral therapy yields good results.

Blondesjon's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land . . . Definitely. My statement, like most of them, is broad and sweeping. It covers, let’s say 98% of cases. There are always exceptions and I have never been adverse to “reading the instructions” in any situation. In fact, I would highly recommend it. A great number of my world and self views came from words written on a page.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

What do you really mean by that question?

Coloma's avatar

Any theraputic intervention and it’s results are all part of the patients readiness and openess to change.

Most people expect a quick fix, as mentioned, but are not really committed to doing the ‘work.’

I went to a year of therapy after a divorce some years ago and it was a profound experience.

But I was ready for the insights gained.

I have a friend in therapy now, she is there to get validation of her feelings but is not following much of anything the therapist suggests. May help a little but I see it as more of an expensive hour long ’ feel sorry for me’ thing.

She is invested in getting ‘support’ but she is not invested in truly implementing any changes for longterm change.

Blondesjon's avatar

@Coloma . . . I have a friend in therapy now, she is there to get validation of her feelings but is not following much of anything the therapist suggests. May help a little but I see it as more of an expensive hour long ’ feel sorry for me’ thing.

BINGO! I know a lot of folks who go just for that particular ego stroke. In fact, I think some of them have become addicted to it. Why does everybody have this incessant need to be “special”?

Coloma's avatar

@Blondesjon

OMG! Double BINGO!

Yes, this woman is very childish in her need to seen as ‘special’,

I have tried to tell her that we are all ‘special’ and NOT ‘special’ at the same time.

The funny thing is, she is extremely miserly in affording anyone else their ‘specialness’.

Narcissism at it’s finest…..the bigger the ego the harder they fall. lol

She is addicted to psycho-pathologizing everyone else, can’t stop reading all the books on personality disorders but fails to see her own psychic mess.

Sometimes….. haha

skfinkel's avatar

I have found there is much truth to be found in Freud’s works. I have read some of his books, and they are filled with brilliant observations and insights.

In a developmental psychology text book I was reading years ago, the anti-Freudian author had an insert about her own six-year old daughter—it was kind of “if I hadn’t seen it myself I wouldn’t have believed it ” moment, where the child had written love notes to her father and drew a picture with her mother in the trash can. The author was honest enough to admit there might be something to all this Freudian stuff after all.

babaji's avatar

The problem with all of this is the person doing the psychoanalyzing, most have the physical degrees that have studied all of the physicality as far as the sciences go,
but unfortunately these sciences do not go to the truth of existence.
They all stay within the realm of thought and as a result do not reach pure awareness.
Sciences are good for the material/physical realities, but you cannot see truth through a microscope, no matter how strong it is.
Truth is seen through the Self.
....,for example
when i returned from India after living in ashrams and sitting at the feet of a few spiritual masters, i was very much in a different place and could see things pretty clearly,
being completely without money, friends , family etc…..
someone guided me toward SSI for some support, one thing being that i had to see a Psychiatrist for the valuation. Since i had majored in abnormal Psychology in college,
i feared not.
...,explaining to the Shrink what i had experienced, he said i was totally crazy.
Since he had never gone beyond his thought mechanisms he couldn’t understand any of it, and therefore labeled me crazy.
i explained to him that as i sit in meditation, the physical world would transform into moving energy and i could literally go to a level of consciousness before thought turned into form. He laughed out loud and said look at these notes he’d taken that was two inches thick….,then said “you got some problems kid”.
So?
then i sat there and showed him i could disappear in front of his eyes…
he accused me of being on drugs. lol
...,anyway my point being is most therapists can’t get beyond Freud or that area in the psyche because they haven’t had that experience that takes them beyond their mind.
Nothing against anyone or anything, because we all progress at our own rate, and are exactly where we should be.
i also am understanding that some therapists do no fit into these descriptions, and many have experienced, even more that what i have described, and as a result are a real help in understanding your self.
Just be aware, and remember that someone describing how/what you are is not the same as you looking within your own self and discovering the truth.

dpworkin's avatar

Whoa! Like, dude! That is so far out!

anartist's avatar

@babaji Just like after reading “The Teachings of Don Juan A Yaqui Way of Knowledge,” by Carlos Castaneda, I wanted to know BUT DID YOU REALLY FLY [or just think you did]—ditto. DID YOU REALLY DISAPPEAR? Did your shrink say Hey where are you?? Or did you think you did. And do you even care about the distinction?

If you casn disappear and reach higher consciousness and all that, are you interested in the world you live in???

BTW psychoanalysts have to be psychoanalyzed for 2 years efore they can psychoanalyze anybody. Hopefully that brings insight and eliminates counter-transference problems.

dpworkin's avatar

Carlos Castaneda is a known fraud. You don’t have to wonder about him any longer. Scholars have long ago debunked his silly stories.

anartist's avatar

@dpworkin missed that. somewhere between reading them and forgetting about them. Thanx

jazmina88's avatar

I have a great therapist I see when needed for 6 or 7 years. he understands me.

I feel like there is always someone there if my pals arent around if I need someone to talk to.

filmfann's avatar

I have been through therapy several times, and can now deal with @dpworkin much better.

anartist's avatar

@filmfann I still struggle with that issue

Joybird's avatar

I have a strong preference for cognitive-behavioral modalities. Why? It has been my experience that when attempting to create change in all other species you don’t psychoanalyze them…I don’t do it with my dog…nor my children…nor any client really. I ferret out their goals and then we work on changing the thoughts and behaviors that will get them to the lives they state they desire. Insight oriented therapies may have some benefit but in my opinion only with the most enterprising individual who is self motivated to change thoughts and behaviors on their own. Besides diving into the past has no real benefit past utilizing it as a measure of what has worked and not worked in the way a person views their world and problem solves. It’s not very useful to dwell there when staying in the moment would serve the purpose of change so much more effectively. You can’t change the past…and the future is not available yet. You only have the thoughts and behaviors of the current time frame that you can impact.
That’ll be $150 please.

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