I’ve been involved with my psychoanalytic training now for almost a year and I’ve made a few discoveries along the way. As part of training to become an analyst, the trainee (that’s me) has to undergo their own personal analysis. So, just like our patients, I have to lie on the couch a number of times a week and be analyzed. This has been a very interesting process for me and one of the discoveries is how previously unresolved processes manifest once I have worked them through.
I’ve noticed that when I am working with a patient and notice that they are struggling with one of the issues I have uncovered in my own analysis, it suddenly hits me that the patient’s issue has been staring at me the whole time and until it was resolved in me I was completely unable to see it in them.
For example, my analyst observed in me during one of my sessions with her, that I have a tendency to create situations in my life that shut people off. Once I was able to see this, I started to notice this in a patient of mine who does the same thing with his family. It was nothing new with him, and in some ways I did see it before, but it was not really until I saw it in myself was I able to truly allow it to be in the room with him and start working on it with him.
What made me think about this is what I am seeing in the political world as both sides start ramping up the presidential race. Gender issues, race, and issues with the LGBTQ community have been at the forefront of national attention in the past two years, yet the front runner so far in the democrat party is a white, heterosexual, man. There are a lot of people of color, diversity in sexual identity and several women running, but they are not at the front of the line. Why is that? I think the issue I’m talking about with recognizing unresolved issues and working them through is part of the problem. Just like me with my example noted above, people who have not worked through issues of gender, sex and identity will not be able to recognize that they are not seeing those issues and so they will overlook good choices and instead pick one person who doesn’t represent any of these issues that have been at the front of our attention for the past several years.
Psychoanalysis teaches us that our thoughts, fantasies, and dreams are over-determined. That is to say, there are a lot of reasons we do and say the things we do. There are a lot of other reasons we could come up with for why women and people of color, and people of different sexual identities are not at the front of the race at this point, but I think it is worth at least mentioning this one.
—Stephen M Taylor, MD