top of page

Psychoanalysis - Who Needs It?

The Letter, Issue 12, Spring 1998, Pages 41 - 47


Patricia Stewart

Bruce Fink opens his latest book with the old joke:

How many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb?

Only one, but the lightbulb has to really want to change![1]

He goes on to tell us that many psychologists do believe that the patient must genuinely want to change for therapy to be effective. Lacan's approach, however, is different. Fink reminds us of Freud's insight that symptoms provide satisfaction, however obscure; at some level the individual enjoys his or her symptoms. There is consequently no such thing as a genuine desire to change. In the absence of this desire to change, it is often up to the analyst to express his desire that the analysis continue, otherwise the patient is likely to break offtherapy. Fink says that the patient's desire to continue therapy must, at certain times, wane or disappear. This is a problem that we have all experienced. But there is an even greater difficulty, which is encountered in varying degrees, although I believe it is a challenge for psychoanalysis in general: how do we get people into analysis in the first place? If what they want is a patch repair kit which will at least temporarily restore satisfaction to previous levels, and there are plenty of those kits on offer, who needs psychoanalysis? What are the actual considerations here?

Want to read more?

Subscribe to to keep reading this exclusive post.

Related Posts

See All

Issue 12: Editorial

Has Psychiatry no shame? This week an eminent British journal of psychiatry published its finding on the subject of 'false memory...


Couldn’t Load Comments
It looks like there was a technical problem. Try reconnecting or refreshing the page.
bottom of page