Tuesday, September 10, 2013

TBIPS Open House September 10, 2013

Psychoanalysis is predicated on two main ideas: that the brain-mind has unconscious/non-conscious functioning and that relationship hugely influences brain-mind. Traditionally in psychoanalysis the unconscious –with its contents of repressed material, relegated to unawareness by conflict between our wishes and what society demands— was emphasized, and called for the technique of making conscious what was heretofore unconscious through the use of interpretation. This technique privileges left brain: language, free association, understanding, insight. Neuroscience now tells us how non-conscious implicit cues, especially right brain procedural and automatic organizing of experience, actually play a greater part in communication than the explicit use of words. What we do and feel is encoded in the brain based on salience and grouped by like affect and experience. Both intrapsychic conflict and interpersonal experience contribute but salience is, in part, greatly determined by the context of relationship.

Because we now understand the brain to be plastic— that is, constantly changing with its dendritic connections branching anew and being pruned— and that its neuronal pathways are influenced by experience, psychoanalysis offers an immersion experience of a deep and protracted relationship in which brain change can occur, a relationship of implicit acceptance and welcome, as well as cognitive understanding made explicit. New experience in the context of such a psychoanalytic relationship helps override, if you will, the brain’s default position of fear, self-loathing, depression, and other self states that vitiate a creative and enriched life. 

Training in psychoanalysis fosters an analytic attitude that strengthens the clinician’s capacity to think about relationship and conflict, to survive the vicissitudes of intimacy, to be with the other, and to maintain a growth promoting experience for both analysand and analyst. This strengthening of understanding and relationship promotes a commitment in both parties to the work. Practitioners find their attrition rate decreases and satisfaction in work and outcome increases. The better one becomes at helping, the more people will seek your help. Psychoanalysts also report a very high rate of job satisfaction and stay in practice longer than the average mental health professional. It's a win-win.

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