People often email me
asking for personal advice and psychological help. Normally I politely refuse as I am not getting paid for my services, but sometimes I take pity on the web's unfortunates and delve into their subconscious to solve their problems. I am very open-minded: I use a combination of traditional psychoanalysis, acupuncture, hypnosis and a wet flannel.
Technically, I am not a fully-trained psychoanalyst, but many of my friends live near Hampstead and it was inevitable that I would pick up a few tricks.
In my years as an amateur brain doctor I have faced many problems, from unresolved childhood traumas to bedwetters and serial shoehorners. I listen. I do not judge. (except the real weirdos - them I judge). Other people's problems are always easy to solve. I'm afraid it's the old case of 'physician - heal thyself' that is the real problem. But enough about me.
I was recently asking by the Council of Neurosis to give a little speech about my experience as a psychological treasure hunter. This is a short excerpt:
There are lots of different schools of psychoanalysis, and although to the untrained eye they can look similar, to the expert they are as different as two quite different tennis players - perhaps Mark Phillipousis and Michael Chang. These schools of psychoanalysis are not like the schools that you and I went to as children: they do not have cafeterias or playgrounds. Nor are they like schools of fish - for they rarely swim together. These schools are all very distinctive and psychoanalysts spend much of their time pooh-poohing the rival schools. I remember a Jungian psychoanalyst who was mistaken for a Kleinian at a Kentish Town dinner party; he flew into a irrational rage and was only calmed by the fact that he choked on an olive and passed out.
The most famous school of psychoanalysis is the Freudian school. Sigmund Freud invented the wheel, the steam engine and the subconscious. Nowadays everyone sneers at his theories about sex and women but I doubt Freud himself is bothered, as he is dead.
A typical conversation with a Freudian psychoanalyst might go something like this:
Patient: I had a dream last night that I was running a marathon, but my shoelaces were untied....the nearer I got to the finishing line, the more anxious I got that I would fall.
Analyst: Interesting. The marathon is your mother. The shoes are your father. You are gay.
Another school of psychoanalysis is the Kleinian school. They were named after Melanie Klein, the wealthy daughter of underwear magnate Calvin Klein. Kleinians are very strict and will often sulk if the patient is late, and will force them to lie underneath the couch, rather than on top of it. Klein was a disciple of Freud but disagreed with him on many key issues. Klein placed the development of the superego in infancy, whereas Freud placed it in a Swiss bank.
A conversation with a Kleinian psychoanalyst might go something like this:
Patient: Good afternoon. I had a dream last night that I was a tiny bird.
Analyst: Never mind that. I had a dream last night that you were gay. Ergo = you are gay.
Patient: Oh. Ok.
Jungian analysts form another of the major schools. Carl Gustav Jung believed in the collective unconscious, which means that not only are we haunted by our own subconscious desires, but also by the subconscious of the whole of humanity. This is one reason why Jungian analysts are so expensive - they will often claim to have treated not only your own issues, but the issues of your father and grandfather, and expect to be paid accordingly.
An example of a typical conversation with a Jungian psychoanalyst:
Patient: I had a terrible dream that my teeth were falling out and that my hair turned white.
Analyst: That's all very well, but that doesn't even feature in the Top Ten list of popular dreams. The big dream at the moment is about bombs exploding in the centre of New York.
Patient: OK. What does that mean?
Analyst: I'm afraid you're gay.
Those are 3 main schools. Of course there are plenty of other schools, based on the writing of Winnicott, RD Laing, Bowlby and many more. But those schools are just there to make up the numbers and give the illusion of diversity. Ignore them.