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Young-Eisendrath, P. (2001). When The Fruit Ripens: Alleviating Suffering and Increasing Compassion as Goals of Clinical Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal Q., 70(1):265-285.

(2001). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 70(1):265-285

When The Fruit Ripens: Alleviating Suffering and Increasing Compassion as Goals of Clinical Psychoanalysis

Polly Young-Eisendrath, Ph.D.

In my view, there are two main objectives for a successful psychoanalysis or long-term psychoanalytic psychotherapy: the gain of a perspective and skill that alleviate personal suffering during and after treatment, and an increase of compassion for self and others. Although my own training is Jungian, I have for many years practiced in institutions and settings that were mainly Freudian, object relational, and/or intersubjective. In the following account, I mean to speak to these goals in ways that are common to all analytic approaches. I feel passionately committed to clarifying the goals of psychoanalytic practices in terms that can be readily understood by those who need therapeutic help in this age of managed care and biological psychiatry. I hope that this essay sets out such terms in a framework that also lends itself to scientific study.

In the following account, I will give definitions and descriptions of suffering and compassion, and show how and why the transformation of suffering, through psychoanalytic treatment, should lead to gains in psychological well-being that last a lifetime. Knowing how to alleviate one's own suffering presumes some insight into human suffering in general, and an ability to hold open certain experiential moments of emotional meaning which would otherwise trigger impulsive reactions that may be expressed internally, externally, or both. Such impulses are felt as pressure or anxiety, and are experienced in adults as habitual patterns of action, thoughts, and affects.

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