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Several Prejudices Regarding Psychoanalysis

by Jean Chiriac

Some of the preconceived ideas regarding psychoanalysis can be classified as follows:

    1. Psychoanalysis is a school of thought;

    2. As such it influenced psychology;

    3. This school of thought has its own specific directions;

    4. Psychoanalytical concepts are based on case study, therefore they cannot be generally but only specifically applied.

We will address these points as well, in order to see if they are viable or not.

1. Psychoanalysis is a school of thought

Why is psychoanalysis a school of thought? Is it similar to philosophy? It explains indeed several things but it does that based on its clinical experience of the psyche. So there are explanations conditioned not by the desire of understanding the world and human mystery but by the conclusions drawn from the psychotherapeutic treatment.

If we say psychoanalysis is a school of thought then we take it out from the pragmatic area of the psychic treatment and we even retrograde it epistemological in order to place it in a dusty museum of the thought schools, which obviously had their history but do not impress anybody anymore.

By hurrying up to make from psychoanalysis a school of thought we actually hide our helplessness to understand the need of psychotherapy and the unconscious analysis as a main method of psychical approach.

Do we offer anything in return? Oh, yes, the social investigation, the interview as it is also called and the symptoms' charts which we vaguely and uncertainly identify in order to administer useless advices or last generation medicines which ultimately destroy the psyche.

It is much easier, one can work from a mass perspective and at the same time there is no need for training or talent.

Here is why, in short, psychoanalysis must be a school of thought!

2. As such it influenced psychology

Psychology and psychoanalysis are two completely different things. Even if both terms start with the particle "psy" they are not identical and not even related to one another. Even if both psychology and psychoanalysis study or refer to the psyche, they have completely different approaches.

The psychoanalytical approach is dynamic. It presumes a conflict in the psychical apparatus which is seen in a complexity, alien to psychology. This apparatus was described by Freud before psychology as a whole had any idea about this!

As an experienced author observes, and with good reason, the differences between psychology and psychoanalysis are irreconcilable. The next comparison is interesting: while the first of these psychic sciences tries to explain the mechanism of the visual perception, the other one explains why certain persons do not perceive a certain color, by connecting this error to certain data of the unconscious life.

But in order to understand why we do not consider these two sciences the same, let us ask ourselves what psychology would have been today without the Freudian discovery of the unconscious?  How would it have evolved? Towards what? Wouldn´t it be at a dead end?

Of course we cannot deny the fact that psychology took over some ideas and concepts from psychoanalysis. But these are situated at a conceptual level. The psychologist cannot operate with them at the clinical level because he neither believes in their validity (as a matter of fact, he has simplified them in advance so that they are accessible to him or simply because he has to adapt them to his ethical position) nor does he know how to do it practically (the psychologist is not trained as psychoanalyst by going through self-analysis).

It is easy to say psychoanalysis influenced psychology, creating thus the illusion it is a part assimilated to psychology. Completely false!

3. This school of thought has its own specific directions

There's no such thing as school of thought that can be applied to psychoanalysis (see above, number 1).

4. Psychoanalytical concepts are based on case study, therefore they cannot be generally but only specifically applied

Psychoanalysis science developed since the realization of the universality of processes brought to light by the analysis.

All people, regardless the culture, race, gender or even time or period of living, possessed the so-called unconscious. Therefore we can infer that all of them are influenced by the same processes discovered by the analytical work, be it with normal or abnormal persons.

Sexual life, relationship, education, and mother-child complexes are basically the same regardless our culture or mode of thinking.


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