Mary Darby – The Envers of Psychiatry – Psychoanalysis and Psychiatry Should be Friends

THE LETTER 24 (Spring 2002) pages 23-29

Freud’s Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, lecture 16 is entitled Psychoanalysis and Psychiatry, and in it Freud castigates psychiatrists for making minimum contact with their patients and paying little attention to what they say. He goes on to say, however, that ‘in the not too distant future, it will be realised that a scientifically based psychiatry is not possible without a sound knowledge of the deeper-lying unconscious processes in mental life’. ‘Psychoanalysis’ he says ‘is related to psychiatry as histology is to anatomy. One is the continuation of the other’.

In 1926, in his Question of Lay Analysis he introduces and defends the role of the non-medically trained psychoanalyst. He asserts that doctors have no claim to the sole possession of analysis and he accuses those who practise it without learning or understanding, of quackery. He warns that those doctors who do engage with psychoanalysis will attempt to make things easier for themselves and will ‘pull out its poisonous fangs and make it pleasant’. He adds ‘we do not consider it at all desirable for psychoanalysis to be swallowed up by medicine and to find its last resting place in a textbook of psychiatry listed under ‘other methods of treatment’.

This APPI congress is ample proof that Freud succeeded in opening up psychoanalysis to non-doctors but what of his concerns regarding doctors and psychoanalysis?

Psychiatry is one of the largest medical specialties. It has waxed and waned in popularity since Freud. Young doctors who apply to specialise in psychiatry usually refer to their desire to relate to their…

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