Psychoanalysis is:

  1. The process of researching the unconscious mental processes, which are almost unreachable in any other way
  2. A method of healing neurotic and non-neurotic disorders (which is based on research of the the unconscious processes)
  3. Collecting psychological data, which is slowly included in the scientific discipline of psychoanalysis, through this method (EPF definition, Torino, 2014)

Psychoanalytic process

Process (processus, lat.) is an event or happening, a set of phenomena, which are working or are organized in a certain time frame, in the development and sequence of work phases. In medicine or therapy, the process is the course of an illness (problem) or the course of its treatment.

Psychoanalytic process is framed or limited by a psychoanalytic setting which represents a necessary pre-condition in order for the process of psychoanalysis to be performed.

Setting includes an outer and inner view. The outer frame includes the use of a couch, a minimum number of meetings, and the frequency of meetings, the permanency of the time and place of the meetings, the frame of payment of the analyst’s work.  The inner frame includes the so-called basic rule, which includes free associations of the analysant and the free-floating attention (reverie) of the analyst and the therapeutic alliance of the couple as well as the analyst’s knowledge of the analytic procedure. Through this, the setting becomes an empty screen, a space, a field, where all the transference-countertransference matrixes or the interweavements of the intersubjective happening between the two parties (the analytic couple) of the analytic process are being projected.

Analysant (client in psychotherapy) and psychoanalyst

The analysant’s job is to indulge in the process which means that through constant and gradual overcoming and processing of resistances, they can enter to the inner and interpersonal-intersubjective happenings which take place in the process. The psychoanalyst’s job is to co-help with the development of the psychoanalytic process with his knowledge, skill, experience and involvement: silence, abstinence from counter-transference reactions, interpretation of unconscious content, and other analytic interventions which encourage the expression and experience of the analysant. Psychoanalyst also uses his intuition and especially his emphatic-sympathetic approach and containment of the analysant’s unconscious content and affects, up until the moment when they can be mentalized, dreamed, thought and articulated.

Goals of psychoanalytic process

The goal of psychoanalytic process is the change of a subject of psychoanalysis. In the old psychoanalytic paradigm (psychoanalysis as psychology of one psyche/person) the analysant was the “object” of analysis by a professional, while in the new, transitional field and space-relation between the analyst and analysant oriented psychoanalysis, the analysant is the subject of psychoanalysis as well as the analyst. The process is reciprocal and mutual but not symmetrical. The change of analysant being the main goal makes her/him more in focus, but still the process of development and maturation of both participants in the analysis is happening in the interpersonal relationship between them.

Duration of psychoanalysis

When psychoanalysis starts it does not have an expiration date. It goes on until the end of the analysant’s life. That which has and ending is the setting. After a certain time, when the meetings end, the analysant continues their life path by themselves with the internalized analyst (transformative object) and the relationship with the analyst in her/his own inner world. The analysant is qualified and prepared enough to be her/his own analyst. At the end of the process of psychoanalysis the subject has changed (awoken, developed) and better knows herself/himself, her/his identity, good and bad sides, her/his potential, creativity and talents, better understands her/his problems, traumas, life and surroundings. To express ourselves metaphorically, psychoanalysis is a “common writing of a novel about the analysant’s life” in which the analysant as the main character brings her/his life experience, fragment and material from her/his life, which together with the analyst she/he assembles and shapes into a coherent story on the basis of which one can live a more fulfilled life. Psychoanalysis is a long-lasting process, demanding emotionally as well as in time and money. But the effects are long-term and permanent.

(*The text is an extract and translation of the text titled Psihoanalitički proces (2019) by Stanko Matačić, former president of the Croatian Psychoanalytic Society and is published with his consent and permission.)

Scroll to Top