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What is the meaning of this video "What is psychoanalysis"?
May 28, 2013 1:18 PM   Subscribe

The blurb for the video "What is Psychoanalysis?" on this website claims that it "tries to show visually some essential components of the psychoanalytic process including the analytic function, transference, dreams, repetitions and the Oedipal conflict". Can someone point out at which points in the video these things are shown and by which images they are represented?
posted by fries to Health & Fitness (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've been watching this question hoping someone a lot more experienced than I would pop in. Alas. I'm in my first year studying psychoanalysis so please take anything I say with a huge grain of salt.

Off the top of my head:

The infamous couch is a function in psychoanalysis that allows a reclining patient to more freely associate because he's not focused on posture, or the analyst's facial expressions, or a fly on the wall. Reclining is supposed to also trigger feelings of (a good) vulnerability, and allows him to focus on his inner thoughts as opposed to the exterior world. However, most people feel uncomfortable reclining at first - partly because it's a bit clichéd at this point and partly because lying supine makes us feel unprotected, which is why the couch turns into a spiky, scary monster-thing that looks like it might eat the guy alive.

The part about dream analysis is when he's recounting a jumble of confusing images, symbols and letters. The analyst says, "A?" which turns out to be the missing piece that forms the word DREAM, suggesting that an good analyst is able to piece together the weird surreality of a dreamscape to find the kernels of truth or raw emotions that drive them.

Transference is when patients react to the analyst in ways that mirror relationships in the patient's ongoing life, often and especially the relationship the patient had with his mother as a young child. For instance, if the patient's mother was dismissive and neglectful, the patient might interpret a period of silence from the analyst as proof she's not paying attention. Notice that the patient has fantasies of the analyst with her arm around him, signifying not just that he longs for her approval, but that the analyst acts as a proxy or avatar of that first woman in his life, his mother, hence the Oedipal complex.

The scene where the guy is dancing and then the audience turns away from is a pretty self-explanatory form of rejection fears, but notice the analyst is one of those faces. One of the difficult parts about psychotherapy is that patients don't want to admit things to the analyst that might cause their analyst to dislike them. Any feelings an analyst has towards a client is called countertransference, by the way.

The part where the patient has a blank page that suddenly fills up with symbols is, I think, mainly a commentary that our psyches or inner selves are often knotted and feel very unknowable until we talk about them aloud and find meaningful patterns that we never realized we participated in, such as choosing unreliable partners or drowning ourselves in work to avoid feelings of pain or guilt or whatever.

If you have any questions about something more specific I'll do my best to help out, but hopefully someone else more savvy can help out.
posted by zoomorphic at 4:49 PM on May 28, 2013

Um, these are just guesses. My credential is that I read some Freud in grad school. I am not a psychoanalytic therapist, or anything remotely like one.

The basic setup is that the analysand (the guy on the couch) gets yelled at by his boss at work, which makes him feel sad and distressed. He tells his analyst (the woman in the chair) all about it and together they explore the meaning of his emotional reaction. I think it's implied that his reaction is out of proportion to the event; it distresses him more than it would distress most other people, which is a hint that there's extra emotional meaning in the event for him.
posted by Orinda at 5:31 PM on May 28, 2013

As an actual psychoanalyst, I would say zoomorphic and Orinda did a fine job--better than I would have done. Psychoanalysis is no longer a unified thing and has as many conflicting "schools" as there are churches call claiming to be Christian. In my case, the video bears little similarity to what I do. And if may "interpret" the video, I find it significant that the filmaker left out any indication that the analyst got paid for her work.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:45 PM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

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