No therapy claims to make people smarter, but I wouldn’t be surprised if sometimes psychoanalysis does just that. Psychoanalytic therapies are those treatments in which the therapist’s job is to help people face what they have repressed and what they don’t want to know. They can help clear up blocks to learning.
Now and then I have met someone who seems to have grown up, without therapy, into a relatively balanced, contented person, little encumbered by internal conflicts. As a psychoanalyst and psychiatrist, I continue to wonder how to account for this. Emotional maturity is difficult to accomplish on one's own.
There have been several questions asking about the empirical studies related to the construct of transference. I thought it might be useful to list a selected bibliography from the literature, including comments in italics from some of the articles.
The therapist's attuned listening:
A psychodynamic therapist listens to a patient's current concern, develops a strong therapeutic relationship, and jointly with the patient tries to understand the nature of the patient's symptoms and problems. This understanding may be facilitated by examining together the patient's ideas about the therapist (the transference).
The greater the dad’s comfort in relating to his daughter both as a girl with a girl’s body as well as a whole person, the more comfortable he can be during the onset of her sexual development in adolescence. It is not just mom’s comfort with her own sense of herself as a woman that helps a girl develop comfort with her sense as a developing woman, but also dad's comfort.
That fathers play a critical role in an adolescent girl’s development is a fact that we cannot underestimate. Fathers may not realize their important role, particularly in the midst of a screaming battle—but they are important protectors for their teen-aged daughters—including protectors of their daughter’s self-esteem during a vulnerable period of life.
Psychiatry needs to devote more energy and funds to study the interplay between psychosocial forces and brain functioning, most importantly stressing the centrality to the diagnostic process of listening to a patient describe the story of his or her life. To provide the best treatment for people suffering with mental problems, the twain must meet.
The DSM is built on the fantasy that we can ignore fantasy and mind in psychiatric diagnosis. A further remarkable fantasy of the DSM is that doing so leads to more scientific, rather than less scientific, diagnosis. This article explores some of the key fantasies upholding the DSM.
It is not unusual for a patient to tell me that he or she had a normal childhood. This always alarms me. Childhood has so many conflicts and worries, so many triumphs and disappointments - how can one reduce it to a notion of normality? What does invoking this concept conceal? Maybe the idea of a normal childhood is a wishful, childlike fantasy.
Many men are worried about penis size and concerned they may be "too small." This topic is often joked about, but seldom discussed seriously. Psychoanalytic therapies employing dynamic understanding of emotional conflicts and child development can help many men to become more mature and less worried that they are inadequate.
All people have wishes to kill. How these wishes are handled has a profound influence on personal and national politics. Democrats tend to be more uncomfortable with their aggression and to inhibit its expression. Republicans tend to be more comfortable with their aggression and to express it more freely.
To feel more in charge of their own feelings and create a better balance between work and home, moms who work outside the home need to accept their own ambivalent feelings and try to ensure that their spouses or partners participate in homemaking and child-rearing activities.