In this article, we will discuss Standard Psychoanalysis. So, let’s get started.
In practice today, Freudian analysts work in diverse ways depending on their personal styles and on the needs of their patients. Still, it is fair to describe as standard psychoanalysis that procedure which (1) takes as its aim the reconstruction of the personality and relief of symptoms by bringing to light and resolving central emotional problems of the patient’s childhood: (2) accomplishes this task through the systematic use of free association, dream analysis, interpretation, and the transference neurosis, and (3) extends over a long period of frequent sessions. It
is particularly the intensity and duration of therapeutic contacts which most visibly distinguishes standard psychoanalysis from what is often called “psychoanalytically oriented” brief psychotherapy.
Standard psychoanalysis may involve four to five one-hour appointments a week for two or three years, although four or five years is not uncommon. For many reasons, not least the cost involved, many patients are seen for shorter periods and toward more limited ends. Concerned psychoanalytic leaders (e.g., Alexander and French, 1946) early recognized the need for, and have worked assiduously at, reducing the length of standard psychoanalysis, without losing its unique properties.
Still, most therapists feel that inducing profound changes in personality pattems, which have evolved and been reinforced from earliest childhood, is a necessarily long and arduous task. Though patently inadequate, neurotic adaptations represent at least partial solutions to the patient’s problems. Not only must they be unlearned, but new modes have to be developed in their place. Despite conscious efforts, the patient often resists changes which are painful and confusing though ultimately beneficial. The process of character reorganization, some have noted, is about on a par with learning a new language to replace one’s native tongue, particularly if the student is ambivalent in his motivation, fighting the new experience while seeking it. In addition, psychoanalysts believe it essential that patients find their own solutions to life problems. Hence, directive and supportive maneuvers, which might be time-saving, are avoided in the belief that the patient must struggle and work at self-exploration and sustain the inevitable frustration and disillusionments, if he is truly to make his way from childlike dependency to adult autonomy. With these goals and values, it is understandable why considerable time and effort is needed for psychoanalytic psychotherapy.