No Ordinary Suffering
Psychoanalysis responds to an anguishing mystery; the manner in which the human being is divided against him/herself.
In day to day life, this presents as something along the lines of a question: ‘What is going on?’ ‘What is happening to me?’ or even, ”Why is this happening to me?’ Sometimes, a “What am I doing?”, or “Why do I always do this?” At any rate, what is clear, is that ‘something is happening’ and the subject doesn’t know how to respond or how s/he is entangled in it.
As someone takes the step to address a psychoanalyst, the secret of that mystery lying at the heart of their most intimate experience is put to work to find a way through and beyond the maze of the conundrum.
Suffering is not a straightforward matter for the human being. Human dignity rarely knows how to do without it, neither love, nor survival. Suffering mingles with necessity, contingency, neglect and excess in the field of the sacred (around the object of supreme value). With this wealth of intimate bonds, the separation of the subject and their suffering remains a delicate matter fraught with error.
Thus, the subjective disorientation that produces unbearable symptoms calls for clarification of the fundamental elements of how we live our lives. This call for clarification implies analysis as the application of attention without the dimming effects of prejudgement, allowing for what is unique to emerge and takes is place.
In today’s culture, we are ever aware of a state of flux, producing incessant change and with it a transience of identity. As the moorings of identity loosen with the prospect of each new step, anxiety is unbound and the subject suffers its effects in the form of their symptom. Although transient in form, the symptom gives consistency to the subject who suffers it. So, for psychoanalysis, the symptom is an attempt at a solution and acts to bind and to localise identity and anxiety.
While scientific and technological advances in modernity have transformed our capacity to treat the ailments of the body, the mind has remained resolute in its resistance to ‘being fixed’ from the outside. The treatment of mental suffering is not a procedure that can be applied to the subject by someone else. It is not a matter of a doctor who will sedate us before applying a procedure, of which we are largely ignorant. On the contrary, our ignorance is no longer workable and, in failing to sustain our bliss, calls for another approach.
Psychoanalysis takes up the question of suffering beyond any notion of ‘quick fix’ or short term solutions of erasing symptoms. While experience demonstrates that psychoanalysis has therapeutic effects, treatments aiming at these directly tends to reinforce symptoms.
Psychoanalysis takes another path, raising the most profound and interesting questions concerning the subject; how it is to be in their world. The effects of this work, fundamentally undertaken by the Analysand and facilitated by a Psychoanalyst, cannot be predicted in content, sequence or direction.
If this work resonates with you, and you want to speak to analyst, please do contact us.
Unlike the medical doctor, the analyst responds to suffering by putting the obscure knowledge of the ‘patient’ to work. It is not the supposed knowledge of the expert, but the fine awareness of the analysand that harbours the divine details necessary for the transformation of suffering.
A crucial way with knowledge that the Psychoanalyst can offer is a termed a ‘non-knowledge’. This includes the capacity to set aside cliche and prejudice, paying attention to what is said in its utmost originality and unrepeatable precision. This allows the human being to come to realise what s/he is saying.
But, hey! Not so fast! This knowledge is no simple matter either. The subject doesn’t know that s/he knows. Well, perhaps, by the time s/he has decided to address an analyst, s/he has an inkling, recognising that his/her symptoms, his/her sufferings, are a sign of something but s/he doesn’t know what. In order to gain access to this secret, the subject is urged to speak about what ails him/her. Treatment by psychoanalysis, then, is a treatment through speech, through conversation, a conversation of a very unusual kind, and in a very unusual setting. The Psychoanalytic Session
The psychoanalytic session is a place where it is possible to speak about what troubles you to an ‘Other’, again and again, and again. In offering the session, the psychoanalyst makes an offer to listen to you, the analysand, and to allow that which is being spoken to be heard. To this end, the first rule of psychoanalysis is Free Association. The subject is invited to say the first thing that comes into your mind, no matter how trivial or strange it may seem. (Freud) This rule lifts the social obligation to ‘make sense’. A lot can be done with this. It is not all but in this way the work begins.