What is Psychoanalysis?

Extending Perceptions and Changing Perspectives

The core belief in Psychoanalysis is that we are influenced by forces that are within our mind but to the most part are unknown, unconscious to us. We rejected these unconscious ideas in the beginning of life because of reasons that no longer make sense in the life of an adult, but we completely forgot (repressed) all the feelings and fantasies that we had as children. The problem is that this repressed mental energy does not disappear but rather continue to struggle for recognition and satisfaction. Now large part of our mental energy has to be wasted on inner conflicts, while consciously we feel drained, tensed, anxious, depressed, etc. The more energy is repressed, the more we repeat the past and the less we can live in the present moment

In contrast to animals whose instincts are never (or rarely) in conflict with one another, the human mind is split. This split can lead to many symptoms in which one part of the psyche turns against another. For example, inability to make a decision is a sign of conflict. In depression, one part is torturing another. And in anxiety, the ego is afraid of losing the love of his own superego. The ego always has to find the right balance between the demands of the superego (moral thinking), the Id (sexual, erotic, and aggressive drives), and the external world. The ego in itself is mostly unconscious, and the inhibition that adults have are coming from the childish, unconscious parts of the ego, from the time when the ego was still weak.

Psychoanalysis strives to establish a whole identity where much more mental energy becomes available for love and work instead of being wasted on inner wars. We bring together sleep (dreams) and waking life, past and present, reality and fantasy, body and mind, conscious and unconscious, all in order to synthesize the identity and to make it able to enjoy life and establish loving relationships.

By making the inner dynamics conscious, psychoanalysis will change the way you perceive yourself. You will get to see your inner landscape. It will release mental energy, which will make you more alive and capable of making decisions in life. This means that you will be able to feel a larger variety of emotions, become less defensive, and more assertive. The goal is to be able to make rational decisions based on realistic goals and not out of fear of your own drives.

How does it look in practice? The analytic relationship is different from any other relationship. The freedom to speak up whatever comes to mind comes with many feelings and emotions from the past that are now pushed to the surface. The analyst encourages you to work through the resistance of the ego and you learn that there is no reason to shy away or to be afraid of these feelings anymore. This opens the way to integration of rejected aspects of the personality (Jung called these aspects the “shadow”), and further synthesis of the identity takes place. Now you can face reality instead of running away from it, or from yourself.