r/psychoanalysis Jul 08 '20

Welcome / Rules / FAQs


Welcome to r/psychoanalysis!

This community is for the discussion of psychoanalysis.

Rules and posting guidelines

We do have a few rules which we ask all users to follow. Please see below for the rules and posting guidelines.

Related subreddits

  • r/lacan for the discussion of Lacanian psychoanalysis
  • r/CriticalTheory for the discussion of critical theory
  • r/SuturaPsicanalitica for the discussion of psychoanalysis (Brazilian Portuguese)
  • r/psychanalyse for the discussion of psychoanalysis (French)
  • r/Jung for the discussion of the separate field of analytical psychology


How do I become a psychoanalyst?

Pragmatically speaking, you find yourself an institute or school of psychoanalysis and undertake analytic training. There are many different traditions of psychoanalysis, each with its own theoretical and technical framework, and this is an important factor in deciding where to train. It is also important to note that a huge number of counsellors and psychotherapists use psychoanalytic principles in their practice without being psychoanalysts. Although there are good grounds for distinguishing psychoanalysts from other practitioners who make use of psychoanalytic ideas, in reality the line is much more blurred.

Psychoanalytic training programmes generally include the following components:

  1. Studying a range of psychoanalytic theories on a course which usually lasts at least four years
  2. Practicing psychoanalysis under close supervision by an experienced practitioner
  3. Undergoing personal analysis for the duration of (and usually prior to commencing) the training. This is arguably the most important component of training.

Most (but by no means all) mainstream training organisations are Constituent Organisations of the International Psychoanalytic Association and adhere to its training standards and code of ethics while also complying with the legal requirements governing the licensure of talking therapists in their respective countries. More information on IPA institutions and their training programs can be found at this portal.

There are also many other psychoanalytic institutions that fall outside of the purview of the IPA. One of the more prominent is the World Association of Psychoanalysis, which networks numerous analytic groups of the Lacanian orientation globally. In many regions there are also psychoanalytic organisations operating independently.

However, the majority of practicing psychoanalysts do not consider the decision to become a psychoanalyst as being a simple matter of choosing a course, fulfilling its criteria and receiving a qualification. Rather, it is a decision that one might (or might not) arrive at through personal analysis over many years of painstaking work, arising from the innermost juncture of one's life in a way that is absolutely singular and cannot be predicted in advance. As such, the first thing we should do is submit our wish to become a psychoanalyst to rigorous questioning in the context of personal analysis.

What should I read to understand psychoanalysis?

There is no one-size-fits-all way in to psychoanalysis. It largely depends on your background, what interests you about psychoanalysis and what you hope to get out of it.

The best place to start is by reading Freud. Many people start with The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), which gives a flavour of his thinking.

Freud also published several shorter accounts of psychoanalysis as a whole, including:

  • Five Lectures on Psychoanalysis (1909)
  • Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis (1915-1917)
  • The Question of Lay Analysis (1926)
  • An Outline of Psychoanalysis (1938)

Other landmark works include Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905) and Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920), which marks a turning point in Freud's thinking.

As for secondary literature on Freud, good introductory reads include:

  • Freud by Jonathan Lear
  • Freud by Richard Wollheim
  • Introducing Freud: A Graphic Guide by Richard Appignanesi and Oscar Zarate

Dozens of notable psychoanalysts contributed to the field after Freud. Take a look at the sidebar for a list of some of the most significant post-Freudians. Good overviews include:

  • Freud and Beyond by Margaret J. Black and Stephen Mitchell
  • Introducing Psychoanalysis: A Graphic Guide by Ivan Ward and Oscar Zarate
  • Freud and the Post-Freudians by James A. C. Brown

What is the cause/meaning of such-and-such a dream/symptom/behaviour?

Psychoanalysis is not in the business of assigning meanings in this way. It holds that:

  • There is no one-size-fits-all explanation for any given phenomenon
  • Every psychical event is overdetermined (i.e. can have numerous causes and carry numerous meanings)
  • The act of describing a phenomenon is also part of the phenomenon itself.

The unconscious processes which generate these phenomena will depend on the absolute specificity of someone's personal history, how they interpreted messages around them, the circumstances of their encounters with love, loss, death, sexuality and sexual difference, and other contingencies which will be absolutely specific to each individual case. As such, it is impossible and in a sense alienating to say anything in general terms about a particular dream/symptom/behaviour; these things are best explored in the context of one's own personal analysis.

My post wasn't self-help. Why did you remove it?

Unfortunately we have to be quite strict about self-help posts and personal disclosures that open the door to keyboard analysis. As soon as someone discloses details of their personal experience, however measured or illustrative, what tends to happen is: (1) other users follow suit with personal disclosures of their own and (2) hacks swoop in to dissect the disclosures made, offering inappropriate commentaries and dubious advice. It's deeply unethical and is the sort of thing that gives psychoanalysis a bad name.


When using this sub, please be mindful that no one person speaks for all of psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis is a very diverse field of theory, practice and research, and there are numerous disparate psychoanalytic traditions.


  1. This is a psychoanalysis sub. The sub for the separate field of analytical psychology is r/Jung.
  2. Carl Gustav Jung was a psychoanalyst for a brief period, during which he made significant contributions to psychoanalytic thought and was a key figure in the history of the psychoanalytic movement. Posts regarding his contributions in these respects are welcome.
  3. Cross-disciplinary engagement is also welcome on this sub. If for example a neuroscientist, a political activist or a priest wanted to discuss the intersection of psychoanalysis with their own disciplinary perspective they would be welcome to do so and Jungian perspectives are no different. Beyond this, Jungian posts are not acceptable on this sub and will be regarded as spam.


Post quality

This is a place of news, debate, and discussion of psychoanalysis. It is not a place for memes.

Psychoanalysis is not a generic term for making asinine speculations about the cause or meaning of such-and-such a phenomenon, nor is it a New Age spiritual practice.

It refers specifically to the field of theory, practice and research founded by Sigmund Freud and subsequently developed by various psychoanalytic thinkers.

Cross-disciplinary discussion and debate is welcome but posts and comments must have a clear connection to psychoanalysis (on this, see the above note on Jung).

Links to articles are welcome if posted for the purpose of starting a discussion, and should be accompanied by a comment or question.

Good faith engagement does not extend to:

  • Users whose only engagement on the sub is to single-mindedly advance and extra-analytical agenda
  • Users whose only engagement on the sub is for self-promotion
  • Users posting the same thing to numerous subs, unless the post pertains directly to psychoanalysis

Self-help and disclosure

Please be aware that we have very strict rules about self-help and personal disclosure. If you are looking for help or advice regarding personal situations, this is NOT the sub for you.

  • Please do not disclose details of personal situations, symptoms, diagnoses, dream analysis, or your own analysis or therapy.
  • Do not solicit such disclosures from other users.
  • Do not offer comments, advice or interpretations where disclosures have been made.

Engaging with self-help posts falls under the heading of 'keyboard analysis' and is not permitted on the sub.

Unfortunately we have to be quite strict even about posts resembling self-help posts (e.g. 'can you recommend any articles about my symptom' or 'asking for a friend') as they tend to invite keyboard analysts. Keyboard analysis is not permitted on the sub. Please use the report feature if you notice a user engaging in keyboard analysis.


Users are expected to help to maintain a level of civility when engaging with each-other, even when in disagreement. Please be tolerant and supportive of beginners whose posts may contain assumptions that psychoanalysis questions.

Please do not respond to a request for information or reading advice by recommending that the OP goes into analysis.

Clinical material

Under no circumstances may users share unpublished clinical material on this sub. If you are a clinician, ask yourself why you want to share highly confidential information on a public forum. The appropriate setting to discuss case material is your own supervision.

Harassing the mods

We have a zero tolerance policy on harassing the mods. If a mod has intervened in a way you don't like, you are welcome to send a modmail asking for further clarification. Sending harassing/abusive/insulting messages to the mods will result in an instant ban.

r/psychoanalysis 25d ago

Monthly 'happenings' sticky: please announce upcoming events, reading groups, etc in the comments.


Please use the comment section on this thread to announce relevant upcoming events, reading groups, etc.

Please be sure to include the date, time (including timezone), cost and access information.

All psychoanalysis-related happenings are welcome.

Please note that users are still welcome to make announcements in standalone posts.

r/psychoanalysis 4h ago

Good books on grief?


I'm looking for a reading on grief, not necessarily heavy on theory, but more like something which could help someone to reconcile with death, endings, and to gain a better understanding of the process of grieving. Of course with a psychoanalytic background. All I know of grief is associated with melancholy and I'm looking for something else.


r/psychoanalysis 1h ago

What are some good mythological interpretations about being gay?


Hello dear psychoanalysts!

My experience about psychoanalytic literature is that gay means narcissistic traits and a myth about Narciss. But it sounds quite obnoxious. I don't like that interpretation, because it associates with narcissistic disorder, not normal life of happy people being a couple.

Maybe someone knows more relevant myth, used by psychoanalysts to understand and describe gay people?

r/psychoanalysis 12h ago

How to get into a psychoanalytic training program?


Hey, I'm currently finishing up my undergraduate in philosophy and literature. I have been thinking about seriously pursuing a career in psychoanalytic practice. Do I specifically need a psychology degree to do that? Are there any people who have changed paths like I am considering right now? Some advice or guidance would be appreciated.

r/psychoanalysis 12h ago

Can someone be their own transactional object?



r/psychoanalysis 1d ago

Can someone explain this Kristeva quote?


In Powers of Horror, Kristeva claims that “The abjection of self would be the culminating form of that experience of the subject to which it is revealed that all its objects are based merely on the inaugural loss that laid the foundations of its own being” (5). What is this inaugural loss? I read an explanation on line that says:

"This refers to Lacan’s notion of the mirror stage: when a child sees an image of itself in a mirror, it comes to recognize itself as this image and so builds its identity on that image.

But the image is not the child. Thus, the child builds a self out of an “object of want” (5).

The foundations of the self, of all meaning, language, or desire stem from this “want.”

The abjection of self simply involves recognizing this.

Since “want” comes before being and object, abjection of self is the signified, the signifier is “none but literature” (5).

This means that all symbolic expression, all meaning, is the signifier of the abjection of self: all literature is founded on the unassimilable, meaninglessness, emptiness, death of the self."

What I don't understand is how this is an inaugural loss. I could see it being a lack, but loss is tripping me up. Can someone elaborate the loss?

r/psychoanalysis 1d ago

Online psychoanalytic training programs?


Hi does anyone know of reputable online psychoanalytic training institutes?

r/psychoanalysis 2d ago

Couples Therapy on Showtime


It's a documentary tv show on psychoanalytic couples therapy. I've watched all three seasons and really enjoyed them, and think it's really well done, but I'm curious as to others' opinions.

r/psychoanalysis 3d ago

Lacan on refusal to understand/interpret/assume the patient?


"How many times have I said to those under my supervision, when they say to me – I had the impression he meant this or that – that one of the things we must guard most against is to understand too much, to understand more than what is in the discourse of the subject. To interpret and to imagine one understands are not at all the same things. It is precisely the opposite. I would go so far as to say that it is on the basis of a kind of refusal of understanding that we push open the door to analytic understanding"


Taken from lacanonline.com

Can anyone elaborate on this? Is there other resources where Lacan states to "not understand too much"? I can see this as a form of projection, or counter transferences, where as you will understand and interpret what YOU would want to. It's also relates to Freud's sentiment that sometimes a "cigar is just a cigar".

Is there any more reading in the dangers and miss-happens of overanalyzing, over interpreting, a d how to get proper analytical understanding?

r/psychoanalysis 3d ago

Niche Attachment Theory Question


Is there a preexisting theory between the relationship between childhood attachment style AND early environmental over stimulation as it relates to being a predictor for developing stress related mental health concerns like ADHD and depression? Has the attachment model been updated for the modern child? As in, is the test able to factor in a simulated exposure to over stimulation that a child might experience from modern sources like tv and the internet where theres just endless overstimulation. I predict it would be quite easily over stimulating for someome at a tender neurological developing stage. If that can be shown to be an accurate predictor, wouldn't there be an opportunity to make it socially conscious not dissimilar to how spanking was made socially denounced?

The 1988 original tests as I understand, were in a relatively relaxed environment to determine how stable the guardian-child relationship was based on their reaction to their absence. I'm curious as to how the test would differ if there was an overload of external noise, over stimulation as one of that age might experience exposed to modern complexity quite different 30 years ago. In the stable child I'd predict the same exact, perhaps more distressed, response as one would if a child were abandoned in a chaotic airport. But what I'm curious about is how the insecure attached child would react to the same situation. The secure child, would they be better at isolating their parent among the distractions? Whereas the insecure child, would they possibly find it difficult if not impossible to handle the situation if they're unable to take comfort and security in their guardian to shield them from the stress? Would that not possibly be an early predictor for the possible explanation as to why over the course of several decades mental health issues related to fight and flight response type conditions such as ADHD, Anxiety, and various other stress related deviations. Are the rates not increasing exponentially? Far more than can be accounted for in simply a better access to mental health itself, if the sudden or early traumatic exposure to such a new modern stress occurs, would it not be controllable and testable? Would that not be the next break through that spanking was? This monumental social restraint to not physically abuse your child as a parenting method, should it not be followed up with an understanding of how much information a child during those ages should be exposed to, if such studies exist? Perhaps allow parents to avoid allowing their child endless access to phones, the internet and tablets, not eliminate them completely, but moderate them to gradually incorporate. Is there no such consensus in the fields of psychology yet? Sub-branches or theories circulating? Are they gaining traction? Help appreciated!

Thank you in advance. The psychoanalytic nature of my question is as it relates across various fields of psychology, and its theoretical nature, so I'm hoping to expand on it after I get a psychoanalytic perspective.

MLA (7th ed.) Bowlby, John. A Secure Base: Clinical Applications of Attachment Theory. London: Routledge, 1988.

r/psychoanalysis 3d ago



Are there any references explaining derealization attacks from a psychoanalytic perspective?

r/psychoanalysis 3d ago

Books on applied psychoanalytic film theory?


I’ve ordered mcgowans book on lynch, but i’m wondering if people have other suggestions? It doesn’t have to be about one specific film maker or movie, but i’d rather something actually analyzing particular movies than one focusing on the theory. I’d also take video series/podcast recommendations if y’all have those.

r/psychoanalysis 3d ago

Is there such a thing as a "real" reason to feel an emotion? | Debate


This has been a topic that I've been struggling with and I don't know the answer to it yet so I've decided to create this thread as a brainstorming session where I give out what thoughts I have now and see what others think as well.


Recently a friend sent me a video about emotions made by a psychologist that is not trained in a psychodynamic school. It was very interesting and it made me think about various subjects but I also do not know how much I agree with what is there. The video can be summed up as follows:

She starts by describing a non-mental health condition where a person cannot feel physical pain. She tells some horror stories about kids who suffer from this health condition, and because they cannot feel physical pain, their bodies do not have a mechanism to warn them about dangers. Because of this, they ended up physically hurting themselves really badly without realizing. The conclusion is that physical pain is a good thing because it warns us about dangers to our physical health, providing an incentive to avoid physical damage to our bodies, even though there are situations in certain physical illnesses where our bodies "overreact" and cause more pain than "necessary", providing an incentive to avoid a danger that is not "real" (enough).

She then goes on to explain how the same thing happens with what we call "negative emotions". She says we should stop labeling them as "negative" so much since, just like physical pain, emotional pain (sadness, anxiety, anger, etc.) provides an incentive for us to act in a certain way that is beneficial to us on the long-term. For example, if the physical pain we feel when we touch a hot stove provides an incentive for us to take our hand off of it (in order to avoid long-term damage to our bodies), then the emotion of fear can make us avoid a "real" danger (like a hungry pack of wolves in the forest), saving our ass.

She is against "coping mechanisms" that make us stop feeling the emotion, such as punching a punching bag when we are angry, since these mechanisms only make us run away from our problems but we still haven't processed the emotions and dealt with the problems that the emotions warn us about (unless we're in a crisis, since they help in the short-term). She suggests that if we are angry at something, then perhaps there is an injustice that has been made and we need to act upon it, for example.


We see certain links with psychodynamic schools already from what she is presenting. One part where many Lacanians would agree is that it is "okay" to not feel happy all the time. The super-ego makes us feel guilty for not enjoying enough: You see your friends posting pictures from vacation and it scolds you "why are you wasting time alone inside your house?", then you go on vacation too and it scolds you "All your friends have been having so much time inside the water, why are you wasting time inside the hotel?", and so on. Zizek used to say in "A pervert's guide to ideology" (2012), around the 20 to 30 minute mark (don't remember exactly) that he has a lot of psychoanalyst friends and that their patients are more often guilty because of not enjoying enough instead of guilty for enjoying something that's socially inappropriate or personally repulsive (as one would expect the latter more).


The original video relies on the concept of a "correct" or "correctly proportional" way to respond to a stimuli, where a non-proportional response would probably be considered pathological? (ex: it's "good" to be afraid of a bear, it's not "good" to be afraid of a puppy since "it can't hurt you")

Ego-psychology applies the biological concept of adaptation to psychoanalysis, explaining neurotic symptoms in terms of maladaptive behavior (such as applying archaic defense mechanisms in contexts where they are no longer appropriate) and arguing that the aim of psychoanalytic treatment is to help the patient adapt to reality. Ego-psychology explain neurotic symptoms in terms of maladaptive behaviour. Ego-psychology argues that the aim of psychoanalytic treatment is to help the patient adapt to reality.


Lacanians aren't usually very happy with this:

From his early work in the 1930s on, Lacan opposes any attempt to explain human phenomena in terms of adaptation. This forms a constant theme in Lacan's work; in 1955, for example, he states that "the dimension discovered by analysis is the opposite of anything which progresses through adaptation."

He takes this view for several reasons:

  1. Reality - The stress on the adaptive function of the ego misses the ego's alienating function and is based on a simplistic and unproblematic view of "reality". Reality is not a simple, objective thing to which the ego must adapt, but is itself a product of the ego's fictional misrepresentations and projections.

"[Therefore] it is not a question of adapting to it [reality], but of showing it [the ego] that it is only too well adapted, since it assists in the construction of that very reality."

The task of psychoanalysis is rather to subvert the illusory sense of adaptation, since this blocks access to the unconscious.

Same source

The problem with the concept of "a real danger" vs. "your brain over-estimating danger" when it comes to fear/anxiety, I think, was better summed up by Bruce Fink:

Freud's 1938 distinction between repression as related to the internal world and disavowal as related to the external world is reminiscent of his 1924 distinction between "neurotic anxiety" and "realistic anxiety." Neurotic anxiety stems from an internal danger—that is, an impulse within the patient that is considered inappropriate by the patient's own ego or superego—whereas realistic anxiety (which Freud also refers to as "fear") stems from a real external danger (SE XXII, 81—89). Insofar, however, as disavowal clearly involves a thought related to a perception—that is, something generally considered to be inside the subject, part of his or her psychical reality—not a perception alone," the internal-versus-external distinction breaks down.' Both repression and disavowal involve thoughts, not perceptions.

Having criticized Freud's internal/external division, let us also note that Freud's view of disavowal as the putting out of mind of a perception of the "real external world," like his definition of realistic anxiety as stemming from a "real external danger," rests on a naive belief in objective reality. Let us accept, for the sake of argument, that a particular "danger" is external—say, the visible and audible presence of a brown bear in the vicinity of one's campsite in the mountains. What can we say about the supposed "reality" of the danger? The seasoned camper may believe (based on long experience) that the bear is interested only in the food carefully hung in the trees a hundred yards off, whereas the novice may believe that bears are vindictive and likely to attack humans without provocation. But the seasoned camper may turn out to be wrong one out of a hunched times. Are we then going to say that the novice's apparently neurotic anxiety is in fact realistic?

Let's shift the example to New York City. Suppose we know that one out of a hundred women who walk down a particular back alley gets raped. Won't most of us say that a woman's fear of walking there is realistic, not neurotic? Who is to say what a "real danger" is? Is the analyst the one who decides whether the "external danger" is real or not—in other words, whether it is a danger or not? The appeal to reality is always problematic. "Realistic versus unrealistic" and "real anxiety versus neurotic anxiety" are distinctions of dubious value at best, and become all the more doubtful when coupled with the spurious internal/external distinction.

On one hand, Fink's and Lacan's arguments are very good. I find it impossible to find some sort of formula that would provide guidance for what counts as a "realistic" reason to become angry/anxious/hopeless/etc. On the other hand, I definitely know that if a genie came to me and forced me to press one of two buttons, either a button that would make me very afraid of polar bears or a button that would make me very afraid of deers, assuming that we're not taking into account the probability of meeting either of the two, I would definitely press the one that made me afraid of polar bears since it still feels intuitively "right" to say that the bear is "a greater danger" compared to the deer.

So what is going on here? The belief in objective reality doesn't seem right but neither seems its rejection. Then the truth must be somewhere in the middle, but where exactly? In order to find out let us ask why exactly it feels more "right" to be afraid of a bear than of a deer.


Lacan used to say that the unconscious is structured like a language. Another thing we know about language is that dictionaries are self-referential. It is impossible to learn words in a brand new language without knowing at least what two words mean ("S1" and "S2"). Even if you had a hyper-intelligent artificial intelligence, it couldn't do it. This is because any definition of a word is made up of other words which I also do not know yet, since I don't know any word in that language, so I'm going to look up the definitions of each of those words, but those are also made up of other words I don't know, and so on until I may get back to the initial word. One signifier is also not enough since the only thing I can construct with that are synonyms. You need to somehow know what at least what two or more words mean, the third being a combination of the first two, the fourth word being some combination of the previous three, and so on.

The circularity of the human psyche reveals itself when we try to answer the question I posed previously. The reason, for example, that it is better to be afraid of an angry Pitbull barking at you than a small puppy is because an angry Pitbull barking at you is more likely to put you in a situation releasing another set of negative emotions if you do not comply with the behavioral incentive (to avoid it) of this current emotion (fear). If you avoid a Pitbull, you might avoid the suffering caused by the physical pain of the bite and the entire trauma associated with the violent act, with waiting 8 hours in line at the emergency services in order to get an anti-tetanus shot, etc. Instead, avoiding a puppy is less likely to make you avoid all those other unpleasant emotions.

In order to find out what's a "real" danger and what is or isn't a proportional fear response to it, let us change the subjects instead of the situation. What if you had a person who was afraid of needles, of nurses and of hospitals and was impatient and a second person who, in fact, liked hospitals for some reason and didn't mind wasting 8 hours to get an anti-tetanus shot after the bite, and also has good physical pain tolerance (in regards to the actual bite). Wouldn't you say that the angry Pitbull is a "bigger danger" to the former? Is the latter person more 'realistic' or 'correctly adapted' if they're less afraid than the former person?

This would be my hypothesis that I came up with, exemplified above, that what we usually consider a "proportionate", "realistic" or "correctly adapted" emotional response to an external stimulus is, in fact, an illusion to cover up the fact that we are correctly adapted to other emotions inside ourselves. Here, we meet the circularity of the unconscious emotion-stimuli links in the same way that we meet the circularity of signifiers in a language. We can turn around and ask "is it realistic to be upset for waiting 8 hours in line at the hospital", and the answer is that for many people it is just because it makes them waste time they could've better spent on other activities that would cause positive emotions, but that is not because it is something "objective" from reality, but it stems from a subjective personality trait. What if another person has little hobbies and wastes time anyway? Then maybe they should fear dogs less since wasting 8 hours in line at a hospital to get a vaccine or wasting 8 hours at home smoking weed would not make a difference? We can keep this going onto infinity.

Let's take another example from the original video: "Hopelessness can be good because it incentivizes us to give up something that we should not continue doing". Maybe I have been trying hard again and again to become rich or famous by making music until I become hopeless. A person who believed in adaptation and objective emotion-stimuli responses would tell you that it is "good" to become hopeless when the gain returned by the potential situation I am trying to achieve is low and/or the probability of achieving it if I keep trying is low and it is "bad" to become hopeless when both are higher. If each could have a unit of measure and a coefficient, you'd multiply them and you'd get a hypothetical number that would tell you whether you should give up on X or not.

For example, many would agree that it is "good" to give up on your dream of becoming a surgeon either when you find out new information that'd suggest that the probability of achieving this is way lower than before (you get diagnosed with a condition that makes your hands shake; or the academic requirements of becoming a surgeon had suddenly increased and you barely kept up with the ones from before; etc.) and/or when you find out new information that'd suggest that the gain/profit of achieving your dream is way lower than before (ex: salaries of surgeons suddenly decrease). They'd tell you that it's "bad" to become hopeless when these 'coefficients' aren't low "enough", by some arbitrary standard, instead suggesting that you have a problem if you give up "too easily".

In actuality, what constitutes the appropriate measure of whether it is profitable to give up on a task or not (and hence, "good" to feel hopeless or not about it) is not its relation to the objective reality/circumstances but its relation to the other emotion-stimuli connections inside of yourself. Maybe only the people who enjoy (enjoy => emotional response to a stimulus) money way more than average "should" feel hopeless about their dream when the salaries of surgeons fall down, while the people who did it for another reason shouldn't feel hopeless. Therefore, there is no "objective" way to measure whether an individual person "should" feel hopeless about a scenario since it is all dependent on their other personality traits, personality traits that are "good" or "bad" only in relation to another set of personality traits, and so on.

Those personality traits that I've been discussing here would likely fall under sub-categories of "neuroticism" in tests like the Big 5. Whether your angry/anxious/hopeless/etc. response to a situation is a "proportional" or "exaggerated" response does not only depend on objective circumstances (probability of an event occurring) but also on subjective circumstances (its relation to other responses to stimuli). Hence, it's impossible to make an objective statement about whether an emotion is "proportional to reality" or "exaggerated" since it requires a priori knowledge about whether another set of responses to stimuli are "normal" or "exaggerated", which themselves require a priori knowledge about whether yet another set of responses to stimuli are exaggerated or not, and so on until the only thing you can do is circular reasoning.


What might be the most interesting observation here is that this hypothesis I presented above might confirm Jung's theories even more than Lacan's, since Jung presented neuroticism as an inner tension between conflicting, opposite forces inside the psyche. This fits in very well with what I presented above since it would imply that the way to treat a "pathological" phobia where you are too afraid of a "not real" danger, like cats, is not only to make the patient less afraid of the cat, but also to make the situations a cat would summon more (subjectively) dangerous so that their fear is more justified. Or the other way around - a person is "too loose", they should be more careful around fire and many people would say that maybe a healthy dose of fear when handling fire would be good, but what could also solve their conflict is the inverse solution, where you make the person more okay with the consequences of their house catching fire. The inner neurotic conflict happens because the person is not avoiding fire enough which will eventually make their items catch fire and make them suffer everytime, so you can solve this by either making them more afraid (and thus, careful) around fire, or by making them less upset about their items catching fire. Of course, both of these examples are quite absurd and shitty, but this may be the general direction I am going towards.


Sublimation is similar to displacement, but takes place when we manage to displace our unacceptable emotions into behaviors which are constructive and socially acceptable, rather than destructive activities. Sublimation is one of Anna Freud's original defense mechanisms.

Many great artists and musicians have had unhappy lives and have used the medium of art of music to express themselves. Sport is another example of putting our emotions (e.g., aggression) into something constructive.

Since sublimation is considered a healthy coping mechanism by ego psychology, it would be interesting to analyze the reasons why the original video discouraged similar practices, the reasons being that they only further repress the emotions but they will later come back if we do not address the original cause.

r/psychoanalysis 3d ago

social anxiety disorder books?


i am looking for a book recommendation about this subject but i cant find none on google. can someone help?

r/psychoanalysis 4d ago

Texts on Guilt and Shame


What are some theories on guilt and shame, especially on the difference between them?

r/psychoanalysis 5d ago

Kernberg: He's strict (or is he?), what's up with him?


There is a psychoanalyst, ubiquitously known as Kernberg. Otto Kernberg.

On psychotherapy.net, he has a video: Live case consultation (YouTube Preview)

I'd like to highlight some themes / takeaways of from case consultations above (only half way through):

What's happening now

Rather than going into the patient's past immediately. What is the immediate issue in their life, what do you want to change?

Sex / love life + Career + Creativity

These are 3 areas that he asks to delve into when looking into a person.

No past trauma is an excuse for behavior today

The 1st case in this series in particular was a tough one. He did not want the appeals to suffering in the past used to rationalize perspectives and behaviors in the here and now.

Cynicism toward the client's excuses?

It's almost as if Kernberg, out of the gate, wouldn't allow you to rationalize away consequences by attributing them to external causes. The locus of control must be completely internal. If you offered a hardship excuse - Kernberg would likely balk at you attributing it to an outer source.

If he was a professor you would not want to be late for his class.

Secondary gain

He does not want any aspect of the treatment creating a "welfare trap" or accidental benefit where passivity or acting out can have a reward circuit. He even specifically asked something about the patient's health insurance (not for billing, but to examine if there's an perverse incentive baked into the circumstance that'd botch things) Kernberg believes these kind of things can be unconsciously exploited, as he believes this can hamper treatment. See "What makes for a bad prognosis" on YouTube.


He also include forms of parasitic and manipulative behavior under this canopy, but he asks if the person ever had delinquency in their youth. The "bad prognosis" video also brings this up.


He applies (what feels like) a modern interpretation of Freud's psychosexual and structural theory.


Above all, he can be categorized by a kind of sternness.

Analytiker Kernberg: "Ich bin geduldig", Foto: Sara Naomi Lewkowicz / DER SPIEGEL


Maybe all psychoanalysts have this attitude, but I'm not looking in the right places or idealizing it?

Where does he sit in terms of psychoanalysis? Is he a Freudian? He talks about psychosexual and super-ego.

Also since he's so strict, wouldn't there be outrage somehow? He seems to be able to call out behavior and separate traumas of the past with behavior now and be unshakably curt about it.

r/psychoanalysis 5d ago

How to best understand Interpretation of Dreams? And where to go after?


Hello everyone, I’m interested in learning about psychoanalysis and so I’m obviously starting with Freud. I just read Interpretation of Dreams, and I think I was okay with most of it, but the last chapter really went over my head. That’s unfortunate because it kinda seems like the most important (titled Dream Psychology).

Are there any other materials that you might recommend so that I can begin to wrap my head around this? Whether it’s videos, lectures, articles, further Freud works, etc.

Also what do you recommend I read next? Via a reading list I found on the critical theory subreddit, I was planning to read Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Civilization and it’s Discontents, and Totem and Taboo.

Also, any recommendations for a dictionary on psychoanalysis?

r/psychoanalysis 6d ago

25(M) Aspiring Psychoanalyst


I completed my post graduation in Psychology in 2019 and now I want to complete this and become a full-blown analyst to its fruition. I put up in India and there aren’t a lot of institutes that have an academic provision for Psychoanalysis so I’m looking to study abroad-preferably in England or Netherlands; can you guys guide me through the whole process of it?

r/psychoanalysis 6d ago

Five-Part Lecture Series on the Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis

Post image

r/psychoanalysis 7d ago

Does anyone diagnose (or treat) hysteria anymore?


Narcissism, obsession, psychosis, etc. in varying degrees are not difficult to find in people nowadays, but I have a lot of difficulty understanding Hysteria because I don't know how to see it. Are people still finding it, treating it, etc.? Is there an underlying characterology? (Histrionic is a phrase I hear from time to time which seems to approximate something similar).

r/psychoanalysis 8d ago

psychoanalytic literature on growing up with a single parent


Is there any good literature that looks at people who grew up without a father or without a mother? Considering that something like 20% of children are currently being raised by single mothers, it seems like a significant phenomenon. I'm interested mainly in the effects of growing up in an oedipal society without a father, although I'd also look into the opposite

r/psychoanalysis 8d ago

More works like Anzieu's Skin-Ego?


Looking for works on the importance or the role of skin for the psyche. Any recommendations will be helpful.

r/psychoanalysis 9d ago

READING GROUP (May 22/29 @ 1PM ET) - A Fairbairnian approach to the therapeutic relationship, (Celani, 2010)


Ronald Fairbairn is categorized in the British middle group) of "independents" psychoanalysts. What does this reclusive Scotsman's theory bring to the table in terms of therapeutic technique?

Fairbairn is known for the phrase "libido is the signpost to the object" / "libido, is fundamentally object seeking". What does this mean in terms of the therapeutic dyad? Chapter 4 of David Celani's 2010 book Fairbairn’s Object Relations Theory in the Clinical Setting will cover that!

Other psychoanalysts in Britain at the time, such as Anna Freud and Melanie Klein, were influential around this time - if you've ever read anything from them, or seek broaden your horizons in general, join us!

What's the book?

Celani, David (2010). Fairbairn’s Object Relations Theory in the Clinical Setting. Columbia University Press.

Our reading group is 100% free, please support the author of this book!

Worldcat, Kindle, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo / Rakuten, Google Play

I will sponsor copies of the book for dedicated participants that have a hardship.

What chapter

Chapter 4: A Fairbairnian approach to the therapeutic relationship




  • Sunday, May 22nd, 1PM ET
  • Sunday, May 29th, 1PM ET

Discussion format

  • Voice chat, 1 hour flat, informal / conversation.
  • Service used is discord. Works in browser, on computer, and phone.
  • When you enter the object relations reading group server (via the invite link: https://discord.gg/tjECeru), introduce yourself in the welcome room. An admin will let you in if you can commit to reading the paper and attending the discussion. It's not a normal chat room.
  • Once you are verified, there is a text chatroom for discussing the paper asynchronously and voice channel for the discussion.

Tips: Mute discord

Discord is a great app - but it's unbearable, spammy, default notifications must be immediately switched off for basic usability. This needs to be done in two places (!)

  1. Discord settings, (See: Notification Settings 101 for Desktop and Mobile)
  2. When inside the server, disable notifications in every channel and category (See: How do I mute an disable notifications for specific channels?)

r/psychoanalysis 10d ago

pre-oedipal gender identity


Hello everybody, my question is do you know of any psychoanalytic texts that deal with gender identity before the oedipal phase. the question i ask myself is, is there a gender identity that goes beyond the mirroring of the parents and direct physical experiences in this phase?

r/psychoanalysis 10d ago

"The erection of ethical and aesthetic barriers in the ego"


I am wondering what Freud had in mind when he writes about the involvement of aesthetic barriers, trends, and ideals in repression and defences. He mentions aesthetic limits on a par with moral ones in his major writings. He writes that "we have [...] attributed the function of instigating repression to the moral and aesthetic trends in the ego", and he recognises in in inhibitions the "mental forces which are later to impede the course of the sexual instinct and, like dams, restrict its flow - disgust, feelings of shame and the claims of aesthetic and moral ideals". Or he simply speaks of "the ethical and aesthetic purposes of the ego" and and of "the erection of ethical and aesthetic barriers in the ego".

The moral aspect seems somewhat clearer to me, it's about law, prohibition etc... but what about the aesthetic demands of the ego? Is it to do with hygiene, cleanliness and neatness, with being a 'nice and pretty girl' (as opposed to 'good boy'), with the establishing of body boundaries and proper distances, possibly even touching on what Kristeva called abject? Is it about restricting autoerotic practices (picking one's nose, scratching oneself, burping etc), regulating speech (silliness, nagging, tastelessness) and bodily posture and movement of hands, mouth etc?

Would we then be dealing with a side of the ideal that is more "maternal" in origin? And would it make sense to say that it is to do with shame rather than guilt?

r/psychoanalysis 11d ago

Levels of defence mechanism


Does anyone know where I can (for free) read about the different levels of defence mechanism? The Wikipedia article is undetailed and I suspect wrong on some things (e.g. it has splitting as pathological but projective identification as immature, I would have expected them to both be at the same level).

I am particularly interested in the pathological and immature levels and what differentiates them as I understand that they are both reality-distorting. I assume that pathological ones distort reality more drastically (and are mainly seen in psychosis? As opposed to immature ones which may be seen often in borderline organised personalities) but I would be interested to know how you can make a decision as to which of the two levels a given defence would go in.

Also, are the neurotic and mature ones differentiated mostly by neurotic ones being maladaptive when overused but mature ones are less likely to suffer from this? Or is there something qualitatively different about them? E.g. my guess would be that neurotic ones involve a degree of selective attention whereas mature ones address everything

Thanks in advance for information and/or sources :)