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Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis

(Specific Differences)

By I. D. Hora

I have a friend who suffers from hypochondria. This very uncomfortable affection is characterized by a continuous anxiety concerning the fixed idea of the patient that he suffers from a disease. Often the disease is unknown or the anxiety is connected to various suggestions and descriptions of sickening that come from the social and cultural environment of the patient.

My friend, let's call him David, resorted to a specialized medical examination several times. When it concerned the heart, he appealed to the cardiologist, when it was about the lungs, he appealed to the  lungs specialist, when it was..., etc. It doesn't worth to enumerate all his fears and all the physicians he saw. It's sure that the clinical and laboratory exams haven't pointed out anything unusual. David was, each  time as hearty as a buck. Yet…

Many people do not take into account this complains that are grounded on nothing and when they take them into consideration and want to help somehow they tell to the "patient"  encouraging words or harsh critics, in order to raise his/her spirits or, respectively, to stimulate him or her to fight against the illness obsession! I have never met a different "treatment" that was administered by  people without medical grounding.
Something else is odd: the same "treatment" and equally ineffective is also administered by the psychotherapist. He/She also intervenes with encouraging words in such cases. The  difference consists of that the psychotherapist's treatment wears the label of  "supporting therapy". This means, ostensibly, that we deal no more with a banal encouraging, but with an expert one. Psychotherapy is  characterized by this loquacious aspect, if I could say so, that means by chatting and especially the verbal intervention of the psychotherapist who tries to morally support the "suffering person".

The  results of this therapy, we've already said it, are worthless. Even if at the beginning could be seen some possibilities for the improvement of the patient, after the interruption of the relation with the  psychotherapist, his strange affection, the obsession of sickening returns.

Psychoanalysis also treated such symptoms. But it doesn't use any more the word of encouraging as a therapy form. It tries to find  out what lies behind the symptom. Then, to explain to the patient what's the secret of his obsession. Psychoanalysis states that the patient who clarifies upon his symptoms, who assumes then an attitude towards  himself/herself and towards his fellow creatures according to the new direction imposed through clarifying, recovers. Therefore, psychoanalysis has two attitudes towards the patient or, more precisely, towards his/her  disease:

1. It takes the obsession disease seriously;

2. Tries to understand which is the significance of the symptom - in this case the obsession of sickening.

From the above-mentioned facts, it becomes clear that there is no connection between psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. Moreover, the fault that separates these two types of approaching the psychical  affections gapes even more if we show that psychoanalysis, being loyal to its task to explore the significance of the symptom, created a series of absolutely original techniques or investigation methods. We find nothing  of this sort in psychotherapy!

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