What is psychoanalysis?

Psychoanalysis is essentially a theory of unconscious strivings, of resistance, of falsification of reality according to one's subjective needs and expectations (transference), of character, and of conflicts between passionate strivings embodied in character traits and the demands for self-preservation.

--Erich Fromm

What is psychoanalysis?

However, the dynamics of the analytic affect do not depend on the contents but on the resistances which the patient puts up against them and on the emotional experience in overcoming them.

--Wilhelm Reich

What is psychoanalysis?

The most comprehensive formulation of therapeutic goals is the striving for wholeheartedness: to be without pretense, to be emotionally sincere, to be able to put the whole of oneself into one's feelings, one's work, one's beliefs. It can be approximated only to the extent that conflicts are resolved. … Our daring to name such high goals rests upon the belief that the human personality can change. It is not only the young child who is pliable. All of us retain the capacity to change, even to change in fundamental ways, as long as we live. This belief is supported by experience. Analysis is one of the most potent means of bringing about radical changes, and the better we understand the forces operating in neurosis the greater our chance of effecting desired change. Neither the analyst not the patient is likely wholly to attain these goals. They are ideals to strive for; their practical value lies in their giving us direction in out therapy and in our lives. If we are not clear about the meaning of ideals, we run the danger of replacing an old idealized image with a new one. We must be aware, too, that it does not lie within the power of the analyst to turn the patient into a flawless human being. He can only help him to become free to strive toward an approximation of these ideals. And this means giving him as well an opportunity to mature and develop.

We could rather say that an analysis can be safely terminated if the patient has acquired this very capacity to learn from his experiences - that is, if he can examine his share in the difficulties that arise, understand it, and apply the insight to his life.

--unknown source

What is psychoanalysis?

The essence of analysis, then, is restoring awareness of what we fail to notice - and fail to notice that we fail to notice.

According to Freud, the penalty for repression is repetition. Painful experiences not dealt with are, unconsciously, repeated. We do not quite realize that we are repeating ourselves, because the very diversionary schemas we are repeating keep the fact of their repetition from awareness. On the one hand, we forget we have done this before and, on the other, do not quite realize what we are doing again. The self-deception is complete.

--Daniel Goleman

What is psychoanalysis?

What, ultimately, does psychoanalysis hope to accomplish in its treatment of neurotics? Its alleged goal is to help bring about a compromise between the demands of the unconscious on the one hand and the requirements of reality on the other.

In contrast, the goal of individual psychology goes deeper. Beyond mere adjustment, it demands of the patient a courageous reshaping of reality; to the id's "must" it opposes the ego's "will." But we must now ask ourselves whether these goals are all there are; whether a break-through into another dimension may not be permissible, or even requisite in order to yield a true picture of the total psycho-physico-spiritual entity which is man. Only then shall we be in a position to help the suffering human person entrusted to us, and trusting us, to achieve his own wholeness - and health.

--Viktor E. Frank