Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy: The Unmeasurable Profession
David G. Kitron, M.A.
The statement embedded in the title of this paper is based on a general assumption about our aim when practicing psychotherapy: Our purpose is the relief of suffering, and not the study of human mind per se. As such, psychotherapy is a moral, ethical quest and not a neutral, objective, scientific pursuit. Needless to say, human suffering, or rather any suffering, is a subjective term, which cannot be summed or measured.
Somewhat similar to the Buddhist approach, psychoanalytic therapy is based on the belief that suffering exists, that it must have a reason and that it is possible, by uncovering the reason, to bring the suffering to an end. Even though the way to achieve this desired aim is not the same, psychoanalysis and Buddhism are neither scientific methods, and therefore tools of exact measurement cannot be applied to either of the two.
Another analogy can be drawn when we consider that psychotherapy, like the Buddhist “Middle Way,” seeks the bettering of major existential issues and attempts to achieve this aim by what Nina Coltart (1996) terms “educating the emotions.” In that sense, it could have adopted the eightfold “Noble Path,” which consists of the following eight steps: right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.
Freud, as a creature of his time, the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century, was naturally under the influence of the epoch's modernistic- positivistic ideals. He strove with all his might to develop psychoanalysis systematically, as a scientific method, hoping to have it acknowledged as a scientific discipline.
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