Change in Psycho-analytic
WITHIN THE SELF
Psycho-analytic therapy is a method for helping individuals who seek it to change in themselves, individuals whose problems stem from having been stuck in the way they are. It does so primarily by helping them to come to know themselves. It is a method which engages the patient as agent. It can work only through his participation. It leaves any change in the patient to come from him; it leaves the patient to heal himself. What it does is to put him in touch with 'healing processes' within himself. It is the patient who is responsible ultimately for the outcome of his analysis, the receiving of which is a form of learning—learning to be oneself. I shall try to make all this clear.
My main interest is in two questions. Why should self-knowledge make change possible in the person who has got stuck in the course of his development so that it begins to move again? And why should such movement be in the direction of greater wholeness and autonomy? But first, what is the self which the patient comes to know in the course of his analysis?
It is not, as Hume put it, a bundle of impressions and ideas. Indeed, it is not a bundle of anything. It is not a thing, not even, as Descartes will have us believe, a thinking thing. So what is it? It is what a person is searching for when he asks 'Who am I?'; it is what the person is who is himself. This is not, of course, an answer; it is the prelude to an answer. Peer Gynt, in Ibsen's play by that name, is looking for himself. If he cannot find himself, he is going to be melted down in the button-moulder's casting-ladle: a fate