What does it mean to undergo a psychoanalysis?

“In psychoanalysis, we do not seek to cure you but to help you find your own truth.” – Jacques Lacan

Beginning a psychoanalytic therapy, as most therapy treatments, requires a certain level of commitment and desire for it. An in depth look into one’s inner world and the self in relation to others is often a challenging process which requires hard work. The reasons for beginning psychotherapy are different for everybody and often the things one wants to change and/or understand are not the reasons that bring one pain and suffering.

The psychoanalytic account of subjectivity is one of the creation of a complex human being through multiple and conflicting identifications informed and inscribed by a constantly changing social environment where unconscious desire takes its shape at the intersection of flesh and word, mother and baby, fantasy and reality, life and death.

What makes psychoanalysis special and my chosen method of working is the freedom it allows for the analysand to speak what is important for them, therefore direct the treatment in a way that feels personally meaningful. “The analyst is not an authority figure; he is a partner in a shared search for truth.” – Jacques-Alain Miller

The first appointment will help both of us to understand your needs and whether this method of working is suited for you.

The frequency of the sessions varies from once to five times a week and is to be chosen freely and through a mutual agreement with me.

Psychoanalysis—as a form of conversation—is worth having only if it makes our lives more interesting, or funnier, or sadder, or more tormented, or whatever it is about ourselves that we value and want to promote; and especially if it helps us find new things about ourselves that we didn’t know we could value. New virtues are surprisingly rare. —Adam Phillips

Psychotherapy…is a long term giving the patient back what the patient brings. It is a complex derivative of the face that reflects what is there to be seen. I like to think of my work in this way, and to think that if I do this well enough the patient will find his or her own self, and will be able to exist and to feel real. Feeling real is more than existing: it is finding a way to exist as oneself, and to relate to objects as oneself, and to have a self into which to retreat for relaxation. – D.W. Winnicott 

Undergoing a psychoanalytic psychotherapy or a psychoanalysis means that you see your analyst minimally 2 times a week and most frequently 4-5 times a week. In the session you are invited to sit or lay on the couch and free associate, or differently said; say whatever comes to your mind without censoring the content of your thoughts and feelings.  

One often watches this scene in Hollywood movies. Obviously very much caricatured to describe a psychoanalysis where the analysand is endlessly talking and the analyst barely saying anything sitting behind the couch. Instead what happens is the unfolding of an immensely complex process between analyst and analysand where both are intensely engaged in understanding and elaborating the unconscious workings of the mind of the analysand. Their relation to the analyst as a figure who is engaged in all too familiar ways. It is precisely this re-enacted relationship that helps both to catch glimpses of past relationships that tend to re-appear as phantasms that come to life during the course of the treatment. Phantasms that tend to stand in the way. They stand in the way and perhaps also stand for introjected past relationships to one’s environment, parents, siblings, relatives, ways of being held, spoken to, related with that have impacted the creation of a very idiosyncratic way of being in the world (also not being) that is now for the analysand an obstacle to his inner and outer freedom, a source of psychic pain or also a source of intersubjective difficulties and inhibitions.  

The day a psychoanalysis starts the newly formed couple venture on a trip with an unknown destination and duration. A destination that with a good enough work from both sides can bring the analysand into a freer relation with their own desire, a more sensitive sense of themselves as desiring subjects, a restoration of a sense of aliveness and vitality, an increased awareness of one’s psychic internality and relatedness in the world.