What to think of psychoanalysis? How does it take place?

What to think of psychoanalysis? How does it take place?
What to think of psychoanalysis? How does it take place?

Psychoanalysis is a discipline founded by the Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud at the very end of the 19th century. It is mainly based on the theory of the unconscious, in practice it is a talking cure which is based on free association, memory work, and transference.

For psychoanalysis, whatever its multiple chapels, our psychological disorders and behaviors must draw on unconscious forces which govern us. We will try to understand with three psychoanalysts the enthusiasm or distrust, if not the hatred, which surrounds it.

What is the fundamental function of a psychoanalytic treatment? Why has it been supplanted by behavioral and cognitive therapies?

The place of the unconscious

The general public has recently rediscovered psychoanalysis through the series In therapy, broadcast on Arte with surprising great success. Not all psychoanalysts may have recognized this, given the TV format, but Sophie Cadalen underlines the accuracy of the actors’ performance. She particularly appreciated the story of the suffering therapist, “which is a reality in our profession“. Arnaud Viviant finds it interesting that the scenario links historical fact and therapy, via the attacks in Paris and the Bataclan in France, and via the intifada for the original Israeli version which inspired this French version.

So what is psychoanalysis? Clothilde Leguil lays the first stones: “Psychoanalysis is first of all an experience that we may need, or rather want, to do for ourselves. (…) there is a whole psychoanalytic theory developed by Freud, but Freud himself developed his psychoanalytic theory from his confrontation with the earthiness of suffering“. It is a certain approach to psychological suffering which supposes believing in the unconscious and what it can shed light on our personal history and our personal emotions: the fact that when we speak, phenomena emerge. surprising in our own speech like slips of the tongue or omissions, which “are like an opening, deep down, of something that totally escaped me about myself, about my desire or about my anxiety“.

What still distinguishes psychoanalysis from other disciplines today, supports Sophie Cadalen, this is the essential importance of the unconscious“. This unconscious with which we must deal, in which we must take our place, because we do not cut, ever, but we observe how neuroses, anxieties, desires are explained. Arnaud Viviant defines a psychoanalysis as “the only place where we can say whatever we want, with a framework which defines this speech, but it is still the discovery of an adventure with another, who has a very special status, who is the analyst . And you, you are the analysand, as they say, rather than the patient, that avoids this idea of ​​healing which is certainly on the horizon but which is not necessarily primary either.“. The place where we come to get out of this armor built since childhood, which little by little has tightened.

Resolving our conflicting relationship with desire

We always think of psychoanalysis as a long, very long time before we begin to understand, to see and have effects, whereas it is an emergency for Sophie Cadalen. “The urgency to get better, the urgency to live more, the urgency to identify something of the nature of one’s desire, the urgency to no longer obey injunctions that are most often ignored.

Coming back to the analysand, rather than the patient, the confusion comes from the word “disease” used by Lacan, “to share the fact that we have a relationship with our desire which is conflicting, which means that we do not trust our desire“. Thus, Clothilde Leguil speaks of psychoanalysis as the experience which allows us to untangle the knot, the gap, between our existence and our desire. Lacan said to take our place in the unconscious rather than opening a lid to discover our unconscious. In this sense, we start from chaos, that of dreams for example, the “chaos” like that which precedes the origin of the world and the gods, where everything takes birth.

It is not a must to do an analysis, it is an emergency, a wake-up call.

False ideas about psychoanalysis

Psychoanalysis is not a story of time or efficiency, these demands for results very much in keeping with the spirit of the times. “On the contrary, we will suspend this idea of ​​effectiveness and result to carry out this adventure together which brings the analysand towards his freedom.” underlines Arnaud Viviant. She is also not “a very intellectual overarching discipline” reserved for a certain class for Sophie Cadalen. Many analysands come into the office, because an acquaintance has advised you, and start talking. And if the meeting takes place with the analyst, then psychoanalysis begins, it has even already begun.

Clothilde Leguil regrets that we think that psychoanalysis is normative, whereas it is “one of the rare experiences that allows us to detach ourselves from social norms, from civilization to tell ourselves what worries us, bothers us“. The superego makes us impose certain behaviors on ourselves, not psychoanalysis; this superego which allows us to accept and be able to live in society but can “turn against us with injunctions to force our desire, and injunctions to a form of enjoyment“, if we return to Lacanian thought.

Of course, there are tears, of course the box of tissues is always at hand, but there is also a lot of laughter. So how does an analysis take place? How to find a name, open a door?

The rest, in analysis or to listen here…

Guests to talk about psychoanalysis:

– Sophie Cadalen, psychoanalyst, consultant, columnist Health Magazineformer host of the show let’s talk about it on RTL. Author of novels and essays
Book: The adventure of the couch, my life as a psychoanalyst (ed. Philippe Rey, 2024
– Clotilde Leguil, psychoanalyst, psychologist, university professor in the department of psychoanalysis at the University of Paris VIII Vincennes-Saint-Denis, associate professor of philosophy. Co-producer of the podcast The unconscious on France Inter, member of the school of the Freudian cause and the World Association of Psychoanalysis. She notably contributed to theAnti-black book of psychoanalysis in 2006.
His latest book: The era of the toxic, essay on the new malaise in civilization, ed. PUF, 2023.
– Arnaud Viviant, journalist, literary critic, psychoanalyst, member of “Analytical Space” (psychoanalytic society), founder in 2012 of the journal Charles, also collection director at Léo Scheer editions. Radio columnist, notably on France Inter in the Mask and the Feather as well as in the Culture Editorial from 7/10 every Wednesday.
His latest book: Goncourt station. 120 years of literary prizes, ed. The Factory, 2023



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