Repairing Psychic Damage to Maintain Personal Equilibrium: Framework of all PH-L7s
All the emergent frameworks are dynamic states of creative effort. It is conjectured that they are activated naturally in extremis, when the options of exiting or enduring are rejected. This personal choice is an expression of autonomy and transcendence.
However, these socio-mental options have been observed by others with a strong interest in specific goals. That interest more commonly serves money or power rather than the good of each and all. But not necessarily. Applying a framework in this way is always an imposition on another.
Judgement as to whether this constitutes a use or a misuse of human creative potential will vary. If the user is depersonalized or driven by some inner demon, use may tip into abuse. Each framework is examined from this perspective and the findings are compared and reviewed here.
Selflessness is valued by enlightened individuals. A framework that enables exploration of mental experience from a higher impartial viewpoint is naturally attractive for them. Philosophical and meditative disciplines have provided something like this. However, by far the most sophisticated and organised approach has been provided by psychoanalysis.
Psychoanalysis is a form of extended dialogue involving an exploration of the mental processes and relationship that develops when a person explores their own mind in the presence of another who primarily acts as a mirror and strives to remain impartial and selfless. It is possibly best described as the deliberate use of the PH-L7 framework: as summarized below.
. The psychoanalyst strives to be receptive to what the analysand communicates verbally and non-verbally, and to be fully open to any thoughts and feelings that arise within himself. In accord with Bion's mantra, he commences each session without memory, desire or understanding (i.e. in a selfless state). Difficulties in being open are regarded as requiring supervision or even further personal analysis. The analysand is similarly encouraged to be as open as possible although resistances are expected. Any unwillingness to be open to what the analyst offers is subject to analysis.
. Freud said that psychoanalysis was aimed at people permanently unfitted for life: unable to love or work. The goal can therefore be viewed as a transformation ( ). At the least, neurotic symptoms, dyfsunctional scripts and unpleasant traits are transformed into ordinary frustrations and disappointments. The psychoanalytic situation, being unlike anything every previously experienced or even possible in the outside world, itself represents a transformed situation ( ).
. The analysand is expected to wonder about himself, events in his past, current activities, relationships, and anything that comes to his mind as relevant. He seeks to describe and explain these without necessarily attempting any logical conclusions. The psychoanalyst is the confidante here who speculates about connections and meaning and offers interpretations of what is happening in the sessions.
. As much as the analysand trusts the analyst, the analyst trusts the patient. In both cases, the trust is unusual by everyday standards. The analysand trusts even at moments of the most intense paranoia or feelings of hostility and betrayal. The analyst trusts the psychoanalytic process, the inherent goodness in the analysand, and in his own capacity to say something penetrating and constructive sooner or later.
. Psychoanalysis could not exist in a society that does not have among its ideals: the search for personal truth, freedom of speech, honesty about feelings. However, the analyst must be powered by values that run deeper than doing a job, and earning a living. Curiosity is probably important, but there is a need for the presence of values like compassion, acceptance, patience and benevolence (i.e. as a mental state not as a conventional action). Without these , the analysand will never have the necessary corrective emotional experience.
. The most powerful tool for exploring the mind and the self of the analysand is the imagination. The 'royal road' to the unconscious, said Freud, is to be found in the analysand's dreams. The analyst's imagination and even dreams is just as important: without an open imagination, the analysis of dreams becomes impossible. (This is why rules for interpretation and empirical methods are inappropriate.)
. Free association is a manifestation of spontaneity by the analysand. There are also be slips of the tongue and similar parapraxes. Reports of spontaneous actions often turn out to be traumatic re-enactments or expressions of unconscious fantasies. The analyst too enables spontaneity via free-floating attention. Spontaneity provides the essential dynamism that keeps the analytic process moving forward, often in surprising ways.
Cultural pressure to undergo psychoanalysis has always been a significant factor. In the USA, it was impossible for a period to get an academic psychiatry position without it. Now psychoanalysis is widely discredited in favor of neuroscience and cognitive therapies. In Argentina, almost everyone in the middle-classes expects it. European countries have varied in the degree of welcome. In the UK, psychoanalysis resembles a sect.
Psychoanalysts effectively force analysands to function via this framework. Attempts to operate outside it (e.g. to socialize with the analyst, to use other therapy methods) are either forcefully rejected, ignored or blocked. The necessary selflessness requires the analysand to be pressured to treat his self as an object for dissection and awareness rather than something with which to exercise control over the environment. For example, the analyst may not answer questions once the analysis starts and this means the analysand loses a common mechanism for reducing anxiety and feeling in control.
It must be realized that entering a psychoanalysis is a risky affair. Psychoanalysts do not always maintain the high standards they set for themselves. It is rather easy to recognize obvious breaches like sexual advances or exploitation, which are likely in any relationship of authority-power and dependency. Far more tricky, however, are the subtle failures rooted in counter-transference reactions, professional biases or lack of a deep enough empathy. The effect of this is a collusive pseudo-analysis or some disaster befalling the analysand.
Much psychoanalysis now takes place with healthy individuals who undergo the process as part of gaining a qualification. Psychoanalytic understanding that is gained may be subsequently usefully applied in a variety of settings without needing the pressure intrinsic to using this framework.
Last Updated: 24-Mar-2014