Psychoanalysis as Spirituality

Psychoanalysis strives, first of all, to reveal the meaning of symptoms (not to mention dreams, slips, free-associations, transferences, and anything else mysterious in someone’s mental life and behavior). But this meaning is none other than the apparent but illusory good sought by the analysand. He may inquire, for instance: “What is the meaning of my coming late to sessions every day?” The hard-won answer will be something of this form: “I want my analyst to feel as though I don’t need him; I want him to feel worthless, to snub him, so that he will know how he makes me feel.” When such an apparent good comes to light, it reveals itself as illusory: “My analyst doesn’t make me feel unworthy, he’s waiting there patiently for me everyday; I think the person I really want to snub is my father; he’s the one who made me feel worthless.” When the analysand exposes such illusion himself, he grows in wisdom, not least by the acknowledgment that he unconsciously chose that illusory good and has clung to it all the while. He grows further in wisdom when he recognizes that his boss, and no doubt many others besides, have been victims of his illusion, since he has sought its apparent good from other relationships as well. His character changes, finally, when he can relate differently to these others, seeing them not as ghosts of his father—or his mother, or his siblings, or whomever—but instead as the unique individuals they really are.

Read the whole thing over at The Immanent Frame, here.

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