Modern Psychoanalysis

Modern Psychoanalysis is a treatment for relieving mental and emotional distress. Its simple technique heals through the talking interaction between patient and therapist. Join us to learn more or post your own thoughts.

Saturday, June 17, 2006



"This is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever" (Sigmund Freud - about the Irish)
There were various reactions expressed by others when the above quote first appeared in my printed list of Irish songs for St. Patrick’s Day – some were outraged, while others laughed their heads off.

Possibly either reaction is understandable, or perhaps one person could entertain both reactions at the same time. In fact, I’ve often thought that the ability to tolerate seemingly conflicting ideas at the same time was a peculiarly Irish phenomenon.

Professor Freud has also been quoted as saying that
“Neurosis is the inability to tolerate ambiguity.”
I don’t believe Freud was using “ambiguity” in a conventional American way, i.e., as a synonym for vagueness or uncertainty; but rather more in the sense of “the quality of having more than one meaning,” or “capable of being understood in more than one sense.” (New Lexicon, 1988).

That understanding of ambiguity is closer to how I mean to refer to ambivalence, i.e., as a state where one has disparate feelings (which may or may not be conflicting) at the same time.

In this respect, I am also proceeding from the belief that much of life, or of our human structure, involves ambivalence.

Observably, people may seem to be functioning adequately and yet be unaware of their ambivalence. Those feelings may instead be repressed, or subsumed in our unconscious processes; though this does not rob them of the capacity to affect our actions, thoughts, perceptions and emotional resiliency.

According to Daniel Siegel:
“Excessive rigidity in a state of mind leads to an inability to try new configurations and to adapt flexibly to changes in the environment.… Homeostasis is achieved at the expense of the connections with others and with primary emotional states of the self.” (1999, p. 237).
Modern analysts recognize this inflexible pattern as part of the structure resulting from the Narcissistic Defense, i.e., a question of what the child has learned to do with aggressive (or other “unacceptable”) impulses mobilized in his mental apparatus. Modern Psychoanalytic treatment seeks to restore human flexibility and emotional resiliency through its clinical methods.

In this sense it might even be said that recognition and acceptance of ambivalence is a good thing; or as Publius Terentius said, "I am a man: I hold that nothing human is alien to me."

New Lexicon Ed. (1988). New Lexicon Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language, NY, Lexicon Publications.
Publius Terentius Afer. (185 BC - 159 BC). (Terence). Roman Comic Dramatist.
Siegel, D. (1999). The Developing Mind, NY, Guilford Press.
© 2006, James G. Fennessy, M.A., J.D.
Matawan, New Jersey 07747

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Modern Psychoanalytic Education

Modern Psychoanalytic Education

Psychoanalytic education in the United States is still mainly conducted in free-standing Institutes, rather than in University settings. Typically, certifications are awarded, rather than academic degrees, though training in Institutes is often years longer than that taken for academic degrees.

Education in Modern Psychoanalytic Institutes usually consists of around 24 courses, weekly individual analysis, supervision, clinical experience, giving and attending case presentations, and presentation of a final case. It would not be unusual to spend 7-8 years working towards certification.

Students in many Modern Psychoanalytic Institutes are permitted to proceed more or less at their own pace. Some Institutes also permit the general public to take courses in psychoanalysis for personal enrichment.

Modern Psychoanalytic Institutes do not require that their candidates be medical doctors. This follows Professor Freud’s thoughts on the subject (1926):
“No one should practice analysis who has not acquired the right to do so by a particular training. Whether such a person is a doctor or not seems to me immaterial.”
On the other hand, most Institutes require at least a Masters Degree for eventual certification. Freud’s statement (1926) would still be true, that:
“Lay analysts, as they are found practicing today, are not chance-comers, recruited and trained without discrimination, but persons of academic standing.”
What should Modern Psychoanalytic Education consist of? Perhaps part of the answer to this question lies in looking at the work modern analysts are being trained for.

According to Spotnitz (1997, p. 36 & 38):
“Most of the work in the analysis consists in asking question after question, following the patient’s unconscious as closely as a shadow in the exploration that will lead to the uncovering of layer after layer, until the point is reached when the patient discovers a truth about himself through his own voice.” And “The fact remains that analysts need to know their own unconscious as much as that of their patients…”
Individual analysis and supervision would, therefore, seem to be indispensable to a Modern Psychoanalytic education. The undersigned writer also highly recommends that all Modern Psychoanalytic Institutes follow the lead given by one of the Institutes – i.e., include Transference & Resistance Workshops in each semester’s curriculum.

Freud (1914) incorporated Transference & Resistance into the very definition of the question; “What is Psychoanalysis?:
“… the facts of transference and resistance. Any line of investigation which recognizes these two facts and takes them as the starting point of its work may call itself psychoanalysis, though it arrives at results other than my own.”
Transference & Resistance Workshops explore these concepts through group discussion in an experiential setting. The experience with using Transference & Resistance Workshops has been greater expression and understanding of feelings by students and less acting out. Having experienced these Workshops myself, it has been difficult for me to imagine Modern Psychoanalytic education without them.

Freud, S. 1914. The History of the Psychoanalytic Movement; (fr. Freud, S. (1938). Basic Writings of Sigmund Freud, (Modern Library Edition, 1995; trans. Dr. A.A. Brill), NY, The Modern Library).
Freud, S. 1926. The Question of Lay Analysis; (fr. Freud, S. (1938). Basic Writings of Sigmund Freud, (Modern Library Edition, 1995; trans. Dr. A.A. Brill), NY, The Modern Library).

Spotnitz, H. (1997). The Goals of Modern Psychoanalysis: The Therapeutic Resolution of Verbal and Preverbal Resistances for Patient and Analyst (CMPS/Modern Psychoanalysis, Vol. 22, No. 1, 1997)

Spotnitz, H. (1985). Modern Psychoanalysis of the Schizophrenic Patient: Theory of the Technique, Second Edition, NY, Human Sciences Press.

© 2006, James G. Fennessy, M.A., J.D.
Matawan, New Jersey 07747