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FAQ

What is Psychoanalysis?

Psychoanalysis relies on speaking in a way that reveals what is most truthful. While mental suffering is often labelled by the names of disorders such as depression or anxiety, there is a broader sense in which we are all at odds with our ourselves. It is therefore, possible to explore a psychoanalysis as a kind of education of the self. You may come along complaining of trauma, alienation, addiction or a mood disorder, but what we deal with in analysis – the human subject – is more than any of these. Psychoanalysis addresses the subject and their desire. It is a way to find out who we are, what we want, and what is stopping us from enjoying our lives. To enter into an analysis is to find the words to say (and remake) what has made us. It involves talking (and hearing) in a way that reveals what has been hitherto hidden. In so doing, psychoanalysis alleviates suffering, and does so differently to other psychological methods. The result is a life less burdened by the tendency to repeat behaviours and beliefs that cause suffering.

What does it treat?

Psychoanalysis deals with a diverse spread of conditions and symptoms, including anxiety, depression, phobias, obsessive and eating disorders, sexual dysfunction and psychosomatic conditions. It is also effective in working through difficulties with family; separation; conflict at work; the effects of retirement; anxiety concerning first-time parenthood; effects of traumatic events; bereavement and existential crises. Psychoanalysis, in particular the clinic evolved by Jacques Lacan, works with serious mental illness, that is conditions such as bi-polar disorder, paranoia, schizophrenia, and other forms of psychosis, known to some as personality disorder.

But most significantly, what psychoanalysis treats is the dilemma of desire: what do I want and why is it that what I want is not the same as what I desire? These are the complexities of being a desiring subject. Psychoanalysis does not see symptoms, such as depression, as definitive of the being that we are. Rather depression is the flaw in love. “To be creatures who love, we must be creatures who can despair at what we lose, and depression is the mechanism of that despair.” The words are from ‘The Noonday Demon’, by Andrew Solomon who is a sufferer of depression, and talks about pain as something to be understood, not avoided. You can learn from suffering.

How does it work?

Psychoanalysis works through talking in a way that produces truthful knowledge. This inevitably traces back to the way in which we are made up of the remnant traces of lost relationships, the experience and registration of loss. We are, in that sense, not what we eat, but what we have loved. We become what we could not bear to give up. This is the insight of psychoanalysis, and it has a lot to do with the ambivalence that goes along with love. We not only bury the pain of lost love but repress the memory of it; memories which return, unconsciously, as the software of our lives, making robots of us all. It happens every day, but in such a way we are unaware of it. We need to wake up. Much mental pain, such as the now common depression, is the effect of refusing to see how the past has marked us. We are then, the product of earlier waves of wounding shocks. Psychoanalysis tackles this by understanding that, while many conditions, such as depression, are expressions of withheld emotional reactions, there is a choice. Do we identify with our loss as something or someone we can’t bear to let get of, or do we accept and mourn what cannot be regained? The answer to this question is how character is formed; our personality is made up of the left over traces of lost relationships, the experience of loss and the registration of that loss.

What is the method involved in psychoanalysis?

Psychoanalysis relies on speaking in a way that reveals what is most truthful. While mental suffering is often labelled by the names of disorders such as depression or anxiety, there is a broader sense in which we are all at odds with our ourselves. It is therefore, possible to explore a psychoanalysis as a kind of education of the self. You may come along complaining of trauma, alienation, addiction or a mood disorder, but what we deal with in analysis – the human subject – is more than any of these. Psychoanalysis addresses the subject and their desire. It is a way to find out who we are, what we want, and what is stopping us from enjoying our lives. To enter into an analysis is to find the words to say (and remake) what has made us. It involves talking (and hearing) in a way that reveals what has been hitherto hidden. In so doing, psychoanalysis alleviates suffering, and does so differently to other psychological methods. The result is a life less burdened by the tendency to repeat behaviours and beliefs that cause suffering.

Is Psychoanalysis more than just a form of treatment?

Psychoanalysis has grown since Freud’s time in its applications to fields other than the clinical (although always retaining conceptual and practical links with the different forms of human suffering and their treatment). As a conceptual and methodological instrument, psychoanalysis is now firmly established in the work of social sciences, philosophy and the study of artistic creations. It is then, in the broadest sense, a method for learning about the human subject and desire. Since psychoanalysis seeks to explain how the mind works, it contributes truthful knowledge into whatever the human mind produces. In so doing it has had a potent influence on many aspects of civilization.

What does it involve?

Psychoanalysis involves speaking in a protected and private setting where confidentiality is assured, and troubling matters can be explored.

Where do I go and how often?

My consulting rooms are in the inner suburb of Clifton Hill, close to Clifton Hill Railway station, serviced by the Hurstbridge and South Morang lines, and the Queens Parade tram. There is ample free car-parking outside. We will begin with an exploratory meeting, after which a number of introductory sessions may be held where both of us can determine the advisability of proceeding further.

How much does it cost?

Psychoanalytic session are charged on a sliding scale where some weight is given to the participant’s ability to pay.

What sort of Psychoanalysis?

This clinic functions within the umbrella of The Australian Centre for Psychoanalysis (ACP), which was established more than 25 years ago. It operates in the clinical and scientific field created by Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan.