⚯ Reading Notes | Analysis Terminable and Interminable


Freud starts by saying something clearly.

Experience has taught us that psycho-analytic therapy —the freeing someone from his neurotic symptoms, inhibitions, and abnormalities of character— is a time-consuming business.

I notice he says "psycho-analytic therapy" and not just psychoanalysis. That's interesting. Perhaps Freud does not think the distinction is all that important.

Then he says what psychoanalytic therapy is, "the freeing someone from his neurotic symptoms, inhibitions, and abnormalities of character." I like this definition. It is simple and clean. However, if I had my way, I'd keep the first two things (yes, let's free people from symptoms and inhibitions) but abandon the last bit (let the patient keep their character abnormalities if that is what they want to do).

Finally, he says it takes a long time to free someone from their neurotic symptoms, inhibitions, and abnormalities of character.

By saying that psycho-analytic therapy is a "time-consuming business," I think Freud is recognizing and indirectly saying something. What he is saying is that people, neurotics, don't necessarily want to be freed from their symptoms or their inhibitions. In most instances, the symptoms and inhibitions were solutions to problems before they became problems, and even when what was a solution becomes only a problem, people don't want to give it up; they would rather find a way to turn it back into a solution again.


Next, Freud says,

Hence, from the very first, attempts have been made to shorten the duration of analysis. Such endeavors required no justification; they could claim to be based on the strongest considerations of reason and expediency.

Here, Freud says that the desire to make psychoanalytic therapy (or psychoanalysis) go faster than it usually does is, of course, understandable. To expect anyone to take the long circuitous route through the complex maze of one's past, to tell and eventually rectify the story of how they have come to be who and what they are (i.e., free people from the symptoms and inhibitions that make them who and what they are) is a big ask. Frud is no fool. He knows this is not the sort of project that most people will put the requisite time, energy, and money into.

So, the desire to make psychoanalysis into something that can go faster is not, on the face of it, something that Freud scoffs at. Rather, Freud seems to say something like, "Yeah, of course, people —those who practice psychoanalysts and their patients— want to have this process cost less. That's an understandable, predictable, normal reaction."

Freud himself tried to make psychoanalysis go faster. After a time, Freud saw trying to make it go faster just fucked things up, and he stopped.

If Freud were alive today and someone were to ask him why psychoanalysis takes so long, I think he would smile and shrug and say something like, "You just can't microwave some things."

You can't take a frozen turkey out of the freezer and have it ready for a Thanksgiving meal by putting it in the microwave for a few minutes. You could try that, but the result will not be good.

Freeing oneself from the symptoms and inhibitions that have made one into who and what they are can't be microwaved. It is going to take a long time. That is just the way it is.

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