In society, I have often listened to people who talk about their ‘would-be’ psychoanalytic experiences with dissatisfaction. When they are asked the length of time of their analytic therapy, we often hear them answer “once a week”, sometimes “twice a week”.
Moreover, delving a little further into the argument, many people refer that the setting practiced utilised the ‘face to face’ method: the would-be psychoanalyst and psychoanalysed positioned one in front of the other, as in a social conversation.
Before, I used to abstain from any kind of comment, then it came to me that I am a Doctor and that if a person I know told me that he is assuming a pharmacological therapy with an inadequate dosage, which implies the certain ineffectiveness of the treatment, I would feel obliged to warn him.
Nowadays, I tell them that I have some bad news and some good news to give them: the bad news is that they have wasted time, money and energy, the good news is that the psychoanalysis exists, in two varieties, classic and intensive, both very efficient. The modern narcissistic fashion of ‘Everything and Now’, which evidently ignores the popular Italian motto ‘He who tries too grab too much will end up with nothing’, has deceived, with the guilty complicity of ignorant journalists and improbable psychotherapists, legions of people who were looking for qualified help to mitigate their sufferance.
I would like to reassert some very simple concepts which I repute to be indispensable for qualifying a therapy as psychoanalytic:
– the minimum frequency for a psychoanalytic treatment is based on the performance of at least four sessions a week in the case of the classical psychoanalysis and three sessions a week in the case of the intensive psychoanalysis 1 (there will always be, however, the problem of the weekend break, the so-called ‘Monday encrustation’)
the best frequency remains the daily meeting, even better if done for more consecutive hours (which becomes necessary in borderline cases or in narcissistic or character neurosis).
As a guideline the more the analytic work is constant and prolonged, the more the analytic elaboration will be physiological and productive: I believe that this is an evidence that simple common sense imposes.
– the face to face method is absolutely incompatible with the study of the unconscious: good, interesting and gratifying conversations can be made which will end up fortifying the defence mechanisms of the patient and therefore his resistances but this experience will have nothing to do with psychoanalysis.
The psychoanalyst, in the classic analysis, remains outside the patient’s view, in micropsychoanalysis he remains slightly to one side. In both cases the aim of this position is to facilitate the patient’s essential task: the production of free verbal associations.
– in relation to this it is obvious that the guaranty of absolute respect of the professional confidentiality is vital throughout the whole analytical work (and obviously forever) and must never lack in any social circumstance.
– the session must be held in a tranquil and intimate surrounding: the psychoanalyst should not answer the phone or have any other form of external contact, if not for absolute necessity.
– the social interaction between psychoanalyst and analysed is not advised, with the exception of severe cases (borderline, narcissistic neurosis, autism) in which a mothering method is necessary. The social interaction, even though it should not represent a taboo (the psychoanalysts who casually meeting their patients outside the setting do not even greet them come close to ridiculous) should not be encouraged as it will render more and more difficult, if not impossible, the analysis and the necessary resolution of the transference neurosis, a pre-requisition for the end-analysis dynamic.
These are simple reference points, often disregarded, which seems right to me to let the readers of “Science and Psychoanalysis” know about.
To all those who could be interested in having a panorama of the psychoanalytic and micropsychoanalytic praxis I suggest reading the article by Prof. N. Peluffo “The Continuous Micropsychoanalysis. The Focal Treatment and the Micropsychotherapy: Practical Notions” appearing in this Review.
Translated by Linda De Nardo