Psychoanalytic Dream Analysis – Will It Survive?
Something Seems Amiss
Psychoanalytic dream analysis seems to be used much less than it was 40 years ago. They last two therapists I went to did not make use of dreams, however, they were quite interested. I would take my dreams into sessions with them and explain to them what the meanings were. After a while, they were able to offer me some interesting insight on my own dreams.
The following article is merely the opinion of a dreamer who has noticed a shift or change in the field of dream analysis work. This article is not backed up by any statistics, but based on what I have been hearing and experiencing myself in this area. It seems that fewer and fewer therapists use dream analysis in their practice.
In the early 1970’s, I began to undergo psychotherapy for substance abuse – the recovery industry did not exist at that time. The analyst I saw was both a psychiatrist and a psychoanalyst. This is where I learned how to make use psychoanalytic dream analysis, over about a seven-year period.
Medical insurance companies, particularly those used by the Federal Government, offered fairly good coverage for mental health issues. There was not as great a demand as there is today – there was a social stigma associated with mental problems (and there still is) as there was with alcohol when Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in the mid-1930’s. Nobody wanted to admit to the ‘shameful’ condition of alcoholism which was considered widely at the time to be a “weakness of character” or a “lack of willpower” which the individual was assumed to be willfully lacking (hence, the ‘anonymous’).
Regarding mental issues, more and more people began to seek relief from their mental distress and found therapy to be effective in the 1960s and 1970s – and the social stigma eased up a bit. Euphemisms such as depression, anxiety disorder, and stress disorder arose to give it a less derogatory face. Even today, people say ‘I suffer from depression” or “I’m bi-polar”, they do not say “Oh, I am mentally ill” – but those using the euphemistic tags could be described as such in more generic references. In the early 1980’s it was almost fashionable to be in AA, as it was for a while when everyone was seeing a therapist or analyst – TV shows such as Bob Newhart’s made it ‘okay’ – even tough guy and mob boss ‘Tony Soprano” was seeing a shrink. But then again, I was treated rather rudely at Social Security when I applied for disability based on mental reasons – the Social Security employee did not deem a mental disability acceptable. Had my disability been physical, he probably would have been more accommodating.
Greater Demand, Fewer Dollars
As the demand for treatment increased – employers had to cut back on mental health benefits by limiting the number of sessions or the acceptable amount to be paid during a certain time. We have to live in the real world economically. Companies must be competitive and economic times are getting harder – businesses cannot pay for all of these benefits and remain profitable – something had to give – and treating cancer and heart problems are more tangible, not necessarily more important – so, the money goes toward physical illnesses. Plus, the people making the decisions are at the top of the food chain where people tend to suffer less of the mental illnesses than those at the lower rungs – this is generally speaking of course. Money can ease some of the pain – nicer homes, neighborhoods, vacations, better diet, education, etc. Additionally, many of the mental problems start in childhood, not as a result of the employment. Employment relations may exacerbate the root problems, but they are generally not the cause.
Medical Plans Cutback on Mental Health
The demand for treatment went up and the funding for treatment went down – therefore prices could not rise (no ceteras parabus* here). The amount paid is set by the benefits of medical insurance programs – many therapists do not accept medical programs or very few of them because the rates are set low and the work it takes to process their forms is a rather onerous task.
For those therapists that do accept health plans – medical insurance companies in order to stem or cut their costs pulled back on the “psychological” benefits. For the most part, therapy prices couldn’t rise because the average person cannot afford $120 per hour (sometimes $250 per hour) a couple of times per week for several members of the family (we tend to run in packs). Employers had to cut back on expenses to survive so workers can have jobs and some medical coverage. Mental illness, since it has long been held in lower regard took the hit. Many patients are only allowed 12 or 20 visits per year – often the reason for therapy must be disguised to be deemed acceptable.
Understanding Dreams and their Meaning Takes Time
It takes much more time than health plans allow to gain a good understanding of how psychoanalytic dream analysis works – to both teach and learn the skills for dream interpretation. No one has ever developed a method for teaching psychoanalytic dream analysis on a mass scale – I am not sure if it is possible – but that is the purpose of my website site ‘learntointerpretyourdreams.com’ which would not be possible without the web.
The Easy, Cheap Way To Treat Mental Patients
Adding to this dilemma is the ‘pharma’ solution. Got a problem – “take a pill”. For the most part, pills are given to the patients to control their symptoms – they do not fix the underlying problem. It is a lot cheaper and normally the patient is happier up front because they won’t have to deal with the problems themselves – which requires hard work and can be emotionally very painful. And, pain is generally what those that are addicts are trying to avoid by numbing, to begin with.
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Meanwhile, the psychiatric community realizes there is not that much money in psychoanalyzing patients who no longer have insurance policies that cover long extended periods of time. Financially, psychiatrists are better off seeing 5 or 6 patients an hour in 10 to 12-minute sessions to dish out 3 or 4 prescriptions searching for the right combination of chemicals to decrease the patient’s more disturbing symptoms while simultaneously keeping the patient happy or sedate. This never really addresses the root causes – it takes too much time for a psychiatrist – there is no longer any higher than average profits in really fixing the problem so that people can actually grow and become productive and creative members of society again. The pills are a ‘Band-Aid’ solution that leaves the patient in limbo.
Off to a Therapist
If the patients need additional help – they are sent to see a therapist – who usually holds a Master’s Degree in psychology. Generally, their studies do not include intensive psychoanalytic dream analysis or dream work – and dreams are one of the best ways to get to the root of problems of the psyche. About 50% of the psychological community does not believe dreams have any significant value. Also, many of the schools training these professionals have dropped their psychoanalytic dream analysis departments or courses because they realize that these techniques are no longer affordable – therefore, why teach something that cannot, in reality, be deployed – which is logical given the circumstances.
Going through the psychoanalytic process in believe takes about 3 years of study because students have to go through the actual psychoanalytic process themselves, plus the specific class on dream analysis. I do not know if this would should be a requirement, but I would prefer something better than someone looking symbols up in a dream dictionary. I am unsure of all the various categories of psychotherapist, but I do believe there are therapists with master degrees that have been through the psychoanalytic training.
In addition, faulty research in the late 1970s claimed that dreams were meaningless hallucinations caused by random, chaotic signals from the brainstem. This caused a severe cutback in Government funded dream research. This faulty research has since been disproven, but the funds did not come back.
The education to train a psychiatrist/psychoanalyst is roughly 8 to 10 years after college – and these are students who made it into medical school, to begin with. A master’s degree is attainable in two years after a college degree is obtained – which is what it took for me to receive my MBA. This does not mean that therapist cannot be extremely effective like many are – in fact, some therapist just have more empathy and a better understanding of human nature, communication, and the realities faced by patients than many highly degreed individuals. The point is that psychoanalytic dream analysis takes a lot of time to learn and understand – and since it is one of the most powerful tools in getting to the roots of many underlying issues – it would make sense to have highly trained and qualified individuals performing this task.
There is no easy solution to the above predicament. The wheels of progress do not go in reverse – they head for the path of least resistance – which will be to cut down the time and cost per patient, thereby maximizing the profits of the individual professionals and corporations (drug companies) involved in this field. (That reminds me, I must reorder my Lamictal, Effexor, and Temazepam)
Is There a Solution?
So where does that leave the dream? Does it put it back in the hands of the mystics and other techniques that are two or three thousand years old, like religious books for example? Galen was one of the brightest physicians to walk the face of the earth – somewhere around 180 to 200 B.C.E. His books were used for almost 1,000 years and some of his findings still hold today. However, if you needed surgery today, would you go to someone practicing medicine from the time period of Galen? Or, would you want someone who uses methods which are more up to date – current technology? Therefore, why would a rational person use methods of dream interpretation that are thousands of years old when psychology and neuroscience have advanced dream analysis to a fairly high degree?
My blog or website, learntointerpretyourdreams.com , is an attempt to fill in this gap partially. The gap is huge – one person’s efforts will not replace the hole these shifts in treatment have created. In a psychotherapeutic sense – Dreams and their analysis are about fixing the spirit of the damaged or traumatized individual – their psyche. But for the more normal individual, dreams are a way to discover what might improve their life – and let them know when they are getting off course.
Dreams are a survival mechanism and everyone can benefit from their understanding – because dreams are meant to make each one of us better survivors in life. This is a ‘grass roots’ attempt to “keep the dream alive”. Since psychoanalytic dream analysis techniques are no longer being promoted to the masses through the channel originally established by the psychiatric community – the masses and therapists are going to have to take it on their own to study these techniques in books, u-tube videos and sites like this one if they want to understand the forces that drive them or the ones that hold them back.
Also, it should be made clear that there is no one technique that is correct. Freud and Jung differed, and their theories have been revised by many who came after them each with their own twist. I, personally, use a combination of techniques that I have picked up from various sources over the years through therapy, books, and now media offered on ‘you.tube’.
Nothing is better than the dream – to cut through the bullshit – and inform you exactly of what is going on with your life. The unconscious and conscious mind working together is your guidance system – it controls where your life is going to go.
Part II of this article will address the faulty research that adversely affected psychoanalytic dream analysis research and, also, current findings in neuroscience that proved that some of the original psychoanalytic dream analysis theories from the late 1800s and early 1900s now have psychoneurological groundings. Although Freud and Jung may have been incorrect on some issues, they were right about many things also.
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Definition of Psychoanalytic Theory from Wikipedia
Psychoanalytic theory is the theory of personality organization and the dynamics of personality development that guides psychoanalysis, a clinical method for treating psychopathology. First laid out by Sigmund Freud in the late 19th century, psychoanalytic theory has undergone many refinements since his work. Psychoanalytic theory came to full prominence in the last third of the twentieth century as part of the flow of critical discourse regarding psychological treatments after the 1960s, long after Freud’s death in 1939, and its validity is now widely disputed or rejected. Freud had ceased his analysis of the brain and his physiological studies and shifted his focus to the study of the mind and the related psychological attributes making up the mind, and on treatment using free association and the phenomena of transference. His study emphasized the recognition of childhood events that could influence the mental functioning of adults. His examination of the genetic and then the developmental aspects gave the psychoanalytic theory its characteristics. Starting with his publication of The Interpretation of Dreams in 1899, his theories began to gain prominence.
- Tere sa de Lauretis, Freud’s Drive (Basingstoke 2008) p. 3
- Blumenthal, Ralph.“Did Freud’s Isolation Lead Him to Reverse Theory on Neurosis?” New York Times, 25 August 1981
- Miller, Alice. Thou Shalt Not Be Aware, Society’s Betrayal of the Child New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1984, pp. 105–227
- Kupfersmid, Joel. Abstract Does the Oedipus complex exist?, American Psychological Association, 1995
- Rubin, Jeffrey. The Real Oedipus Complex, Psychology Today, 1 May 2012
- Tyson, Phyllis. (2002). The challenges of psychoanalytic developmental theory. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 50, 19–52.
Copy Right @ Very Cool Dreams Company September 10, 2011
Copy Right @ Very Cool Dreams Company January 1, 2017