Sigmund Freud was a Viennese physician who invented, practiced and developed a theory about a cure through speech within the confidential framework of a free discussion. Invented and experimented on during the 1880s, the theory and practice of psychoanalysis remained little known at the start of the twentieth century. During the second half of the twentieth century, it met with worldwide success. Currently in France five million people have, at various problematic stages in their lives, turned to the advice of someone trained in psychoanalytic theory –a considerable number. Still more impressive is the fact that ninety percent of them have said they are satisfied, which is an exceptional success rate. Freudian psychoanalysis is today the benchmark, while all others have failed to bring about long-term improvements in patients’ well-being.
A psychoanalyst can help when you are experiencing the pain of being alive, an inner suffering the reason for which is unknown and which is difficult to deal with alone. This may be to do with inner difficulties that affect our relationships and decision-taking in relation to other people. But it can also be to do with external difficulties affecting our state of mind: difficulties linked to parents or family, or to emotional upheavals that, through renunciation or repetition, have led you to make choices that plunge you into a state of deep and enduring suffering.
-Inner difficulties: All is well in my life. I have everything I need to be happy. But I feel bad. I’m sad or tense. I get depressed for no reason. I sleep badly. I suffer from bouts of anxiety. I feel forced into suffering rather than acting. I’m losing control over my life.
-Concrete troubles: I just can’t see my way to getting over a bereavement, a painful divorce, an emotional upheaval, the loss of my job… I’m having difficulties with a teenager who’s off the rails.
-Incapable of making choices: My married or domestic life is hell. I’m so exhausted that I’ve become incapable of changing it. I lead a double emotional life. I can no longer bear to live this lie. My career’s reached a dead end. I fear for my job, yet I can’t bring myself to do something about it.
-Relational difficulties: I’m at loggerheads with just about everybody. People reject me or despise me. I feel very isolated. I have no friends left and no lasting relationships.
-Needing to take back control over your life: I get the feeling a lot of things are passing me by, that I’m missing out on important things. I feel the need to take back the reins of my own destiny and live my life to the full.
-Desire for personal betterment: I’ve managed to sort out my problems, but I want to understand why in the past I made some choices I now regret. I’d like now to enrich my life through personal development towards a knowledge of my deepest desires so that I can satisfy them more completely.
The current length of consultations is generally half an hour, but this can vary: the initial consultations can be up to an hour long and are then progressively adapted your needs.
Usually consultations are weekly, but this can vary, with twice-weekly consultations or more in the event of particular difficulty.
The length of a course of psychoanalysis depends on the resolution of the problems that have led to it. Consultations can last anything from a few months to years. Modern, active psychoanalysis brings about fast, positive developments leading to an improved sense of well-being in just a few sessions.
A psychoanalyst is a professional whom you consult within the framework of a therapeutic relationship. Consultations are therefore confidential and subject to the professional secrecy act (Clauses 223-6,13,14 and 434-1,6,11). What passes between psychoanalyst and patient during a consultation therefore remains within the walls of the consulting room. No one is authorized to request any information about what happens in there, or what you have said or heard there during your consultations. No employers, family members or friends will ever be informed of the content of your consultations by your hypnotherapist. To ensure this confidentiality a psychoanalyst will refuse consultations with anyone from your immediate circle.
The first principle of psychoanalysis is free speech: your psychoanalyst is capable of understanding everything and of receiving what you have to say without judgment. Your psychoanalyst’s stance is one of benevolent neutrality and warmth. So you can speak freely about your emotions and feelings, about anything disturbing your peace of mind. Your psychoanalyst becomes your emotional depository.
The goal of psychoanalysis is not to alter your personality, but for you to recover your capabilities and your deepest desires. Psychoanalysis will develop your ability to take initiative, which may surprise the people in your home or work environment.
The first interview is always held seated face-to-face. In subsequent sessions the psychoanalyst may, depending on your needs, suggest you take up a reclining position on the couch. This enables greater relaxation, which is vital for the free association of ideas. If you experience difficulties or are apprehensive about reclining, tell your psychoanalyst, as face-to-face can be just as effective.
Psychiatrists or physicians often refer their patients to a psychoanalyst as a complement to the medications they prescribe, like anxiolytics or antidepressants. Similarly, psychoanalysts advise some of their patients to discuss the possibility of medicinal treatment with their physicians. Psychoanalysts do not prescribe medicines.
Consultation with a psychoanalyst has long since lost its dimension of secrecy. However, it is advisable to avoid talking about it publicly at work or with people from your social circle whose intentions towards you you are not sure about. If, in view of a change in your attitude or the interest you show in certain subjects, your friends or relations ask you if you are seeing a “shrink”, just tell them you are doing some personal work. If you are worried about pressure or opposition from your circle, avoid naming your psychoanalyst. Discretion is the best guarantee.
A psychoanalyst is a professional to whom a patient turns to confide in. It is therefore all to do with building a positive relationship between two people, so you might as well choose a psychoanalyst you feel good with and who understands you. If after a few appointments this is not the case, it would be useful to look for another one better suited to you.