The Sphinx's Riddle
What goes on four legs in the morning, on two legs at noon, and on three legs in the evening?
The Sphinx asked traveller's his riddle , killing
those who failed the test. Oedipus answered 'man' and passed through.
Human life is lived through pairings of desire & death, dependence and independence, loss and possession; infancy and maturity. Sigmund Freud discovered that these conflicts begin from the earliest stage of life, where the body's needs and desires begin to find expression and representation through their encounters with deprivation and satisfaction with another (initially Mother). He described this process as the conflict between the pleasure principle, our desire and needs seeking expression and discharge and the reality principle, where our essential demands come into conflict with the reality.
From the start then we find ourselves with an inner and outer life which we explore through our relationships with others, sometimes finding satisfaction and joy and sometimes experiencing the pain of frustration, deprivation and loss.
This struggle to express and find ourselves in another shapes our personality, identity and sexuality. Too much frustration or deprivation can lead us to turn away from life and experience the outer world as persecuting and excluding beyond the reality of what may still be possible. Encounters with people and events, some traumatic, from inside as well as out bring feelings of vulnerability, anger, pain, grief and loss as well as passion and love and are the content of human experience. This does not mean that suffering has to be managed alone or a reduced life too readily accepted.
There are many forms of help that focus on particular difficulties in relationships or behaviour which has become self-destructive. Psychoanalytic treatment offers a very different experience of an intensive encounter with another which brings to life these essential conflicts which have formed us, offering the possibility of real and transformational change. There is time, space and a setting to allow a real sense of self to develop.
Psychoanalytic work has developed over a hundred years to help the analyst provide a safe and secure way of engaging with mental and emotional life expressed within a therapeutic relationship, to develop insight and choice. Psychoanalysts aim to both engage in a relationship at a personal level while being able to maintain the boundaries and thinking to enable a process of development and change to take place.
Psychoanalysis seeks to go beyond therapeutic progress in improving life in ordinary terms. It is directed towards the discovery of the truth of an individual life, in the sense of unravelling desire, defence, inhibition love and hate in an alive interconnection with the psychoanalyst. A 'good' analysis can result in a greater understanding of oneself, including the discovery of desires which conflict with who we would like to be. This process develops self understanding of ourselves allowing greater choice about how to behave, as well as accepting the need to live with the frustrations of wishes.
A psychoanalytic consultation provides a safe, confidential space in which to begin to think about desire, hate and love and how to live and die.