Psychotherapy & Analysis
Most of the central notions of psychoanalysis seem to focus on object relations, separation anxiety, trauma, early life, defense and mourning. So to begin at the beginning requires us to take a good look at Freud and his concept of drive theory and to determine what is born within us and what is reactive to our childhood experiences.
From my perspective, we are all born with our own individual capacity for aggression and that it is partly innate as well as being a re-active phenomenon. But our behavior and our instinctual drives can be cushioned and counteracted by our own will. Who we are is determined by the structure of our mind, our attachments to others as well as our interactional experiences.
For Freud however, our mental life would seem to be composed of a series of compromises between the expression of our more bestial nature (or drives) and the defenses employed to control it. These drives tend develop as pairs, one being active the other re-active, as in Eros, the life force and Thanatos, the death instinct. Freud’s simplistic model of pent up energy was later modified to take into account life history but he still believed that the roots of neuroses and aggression were basically repressed psychic energy or the failure in the process of fusion of our life and death instincts. Structurally this struggle takes place between the psychic realms of the id, the ego and the superego with the essential function of the nervous system being to master psychic energy regulation. Freud’s greatest achievement would seem to be the elucidation of our mechanisms of defense. These include: regression, repression, splitting, resistance, fixation, denial, reaction-formation, and hysterical conversion.
For C.G. Jung, Dream analysis was particularly relevant as was the pivotal role of the symbol in encapsulating the duality of our conscious and unconscious. Freud saw symbols as simply repressed concepts but for Jung they offered the promise of transcending the unconscious and liberating the client if properly interpreted by the therapist.Describing dreams as communications from the unconscious–as expressions of aspects of the individual that have been neglected or unrealized–Jung explains how the symbols that occur in dreams compensate for repressed emotions and intuitions. In a world dehumanized, in Jung’s romantic view, by scientific “progress” and the loss of emotional participation in natural events, symbols recall our original nature, its instincts and peculiar way of thinking.
I believe that it is hard to find meaning in our limited lives without searching for a deity, higher power or objective reality beyond our selves. Freud saw Religion as a universal obsessional neurosis. Jung however recognized the importance and psychological need for a spiritual belief and there does seem to be a relevance to Jung’s notions of archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. The archetypes of human experience, which derive from the deepest unconscious mind, reveal themselves in the universal symbols of art and religion. These are, for C. G. Jung, the key to the cure of souls and the cornerstone of his therapeutic work.
The survival of civilization, he maintains, depends on individual awareness of both the conscious and unconscious aspects of the human psyche. The exploration of the unconscious, in particular, leads to self-knowledge and with it recognition of the duality of human nature both its potential for evil as well as for good.