The Study of Human Beings: bird by bird

holding on to consciousness

The study of the psyche or the soul of mankind is only complete by acknowledging the objective study of human subjectivity.  Jonathan Lear proposes a new tripod for understanding psychoanalysis:  “a science of subjectivity; the discovery of an archaic form of mental functioning; the positing of Love as a basic force of nature.”

Science and the study of the human condition have long been at odds.  It seems that science as it was known since the time of Newton and Copernicus was considered the evaluation of a separate reality.  The idea that what could be studied could be anything outside of us, but nothing inside of us could be understood through science has stopped many brilliant and talented authors from exploring the internal workings of the mind.

In a psychoanalysis two people enter into a contract whereby the analysand will be the source of the material studied.  Hence came the notion that an analyst ought be as silent as possible for the patient to reveal his internal musings.  Connecting the internal musings through an understanding of free-associations was the basis for the method used.

Each patient that subjects himself to an analysis is complicit in wanting to understand the workings of the mind that are not obvious to the patient as he enters an analysis.  Who are we is central, as is, why am i doing what I am doing and can i understand the thoughts that I do not know exist within my body.

People do not enter an analysis for any reason other than to elevate or eliminate some kind of painful suffering.  In the process of saying everything to the analyst, the analysand often surprises himself by saying something that he knows to be true, but until that mental revelation, he was unaware that he had thoughts that manifested himself through the body.  These “thoughts” that manifest through the body can range from psychosomatic illnesses to acting out in destructive or self-destructive ways.

Lear poses this question:  “How is the mind to recognize itself in say, an act of vomiting?”  And I wonder further what can be revealed when the patient vomiting is able to risk deconstructing a view of himself that had not included the toxic material of the unknown mind–the unconscious.

It seems that when we are able to name something, we are more capable of grappling with its meaning.  And, meaning seems to be among the highest values placed upon self-awareness.  The idea that if a patient knows himself and the material that exposes himself to himself, he will have a greater realm from which to understand who he truly is.

As a starting point, psychoanalysis proposes to make the unconscious conscious.  By encouraging the patient to move toward this goal aspects of the self which were semi-automatic become material for exploring the deeper meanings that we have about being human.

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This entry was posted in therapy.

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