What is psychoanalysis?

Originally developed by Sigmund Freud, classical psychoanalysis proposed that our own unique mix of biologically determined unconscious sexual and aggressive impulses drives or motivates behavior and mental processes. In his view, psychological adaptation (mental health) reflected:

  • Effectively managing these unconscious impulses within the constraints of reality and morality;
  • Progressing through what he called developmental epochs or psychosexual stages without unresolved inner conflicts caused by trauma that can create stuck patterns of thinking and behaving;
  • Using what he called defense mechanisms in a flexible manner to ward off the ubiquitous and dangerous (if left unchecked) unconscious impulses.

In classical analysis, the psychoanalyst’s job was to be a blank screen upon which patients would project their inner feelings and thoughts through free association as well as “slips of the tongue” and dreams. Analysts were to stay “neutral”, doing their best not to interfere with each patient’s production of unconscious material, and with objective, surgical precision dust of their psychic detritus to reveal truth. In doing so, patients were assumed to learn to better manage impulses their impulses efficiently and appropriately meet their own needs and develop a moral compass which fostered prosperity and positive contributions to society.

Freud’s theoretical position reflected the 19th century zeitgeist in which he practiced: that troubled people, persons with problems in living, could be best helped by a psychological surgeon, a psychoanalyst, someone who could objectively explore the origins and maintenance of their flawed adaptations to life and foster insight through insightful interpretations to bring about therapeutic change.

My New York based psychoanalytic practice

Much has changed since Freud’s time.

  • Philosophers, scientists, and psychologists have moved from believing that a psychoanalyst can “objectively” determine the historical reasons behind a patient’s condition, and instead, embrace the idea that effective treatment involves exploring and understanding one’s inner “narrative” truth – the story we tell ourselves about our experience.
  • In my psychoanalytic practice, I take a constructivist approach. I believe with a gentle spirit of inquiry, a theory supported by empirical research, and in a collaborative therapeutic alliance with the analyst, each patient can take a comprehensive and useful look at how their perception of the world and behavior make sense given their life experiences with significant others in particular.
  • In my psychoanalytic practice, I focus on winnowing out whether my reaction to each patient is because of my own learned history or is actually consistent with how most people experience the patient.
  • In my psychoanalytic practice, I embrace the notion that the therapeutic process is intersubjective – both the patient’s and analyst’s subjectivity intersect much like a Venn diagram. It is through the analyst’s disciplined, spontaneous, emotional engagements that patients come to feel safe, and experience being heard, accepted, and understood. From this, personal change can emanate.
  • In my psychoanalytic practice, I believe that the therapeutic relationship is characterized by mutuality and collaboration. My job is to gently track each patient’s narrative and experience. In that spirit of inquiry, I raise hypotheses for consideration, and lead with empathic attunement to connect the dots of a patient’s experience in ways that facilitate appropriately adaptive re-writing of the inner narrative.
  • In my psychoanalytic practice, I draw upon considerable empirical, observational research of infant behavior to view motivation as determined by many more factors than sexual and aggressive impulses. In this regard, I draw upon Motivational Systems Theory, which indicates that human intentions reflect engagement of multiple factors: desire for physiological regulation, attachment, environmental exploration, affiliation, caregiving, avoiding aversive and pursuing sensual/sexual experiences. Using these seven multiple lenses enhances my ability to dial in empathically to each patient’s subjectivity.
  • Finally, in my psychoanalytic practice, I know that much of the therapeutic action focuses on identifying, articulating, and supporting each patient’s strengths and anti-fragilities – the forward edge – rather than on what is disease, defect, or deficit. As someone who embraces Humanistic Psychology, Self Psychology, and Relational Psychoanalysis, I believe that disciplined empathic attunement forms the foundation for all therapeutic change, and can provide the corrective emotional experience that fosters psychological adaptation and growth.

Put simply, my psychoanalytic mission and commitment is to help you answer what I call The Prime Directive:

Why does it make sense that I am having these sets of problems with these people in these situations in my life, and what can I do to be more effective and satisfied in these relationships.

To find out more about my psychoanalytic practice and the theories from which I draw, please see the Resource pages on this website.

Who can particularly benefit from psychoanalysis?

  • Patients who seemed not to have been helped by approaches focused on immediate “symptom” removal (e.g., cognitive-behavioral therapy or behavior therapy);
  • Patients who are interested in an approach that may help them re-write their inner narrative – i.e., what they say to themselves about why they are having currently experienced problems in living – and construct a more cohesive sense of self and personal identity;
  • Patients who have reached the midpoint in life and are financially/professionally prosperous, but experience an inexplicable and disturbing lack of focus, excitement in living, and vitality.

How much does psychoanalysis cost?

$400/ 45-minute hour. I take a limited number of reduced fee patients, generally, and am willing to slide my hourly rate down should you wish to come in multiple times per week, which often accelerates effectiveness of the psychoanalytic process.

How should I get started?

To begin the path to life on your own terms though psychoanalysis, I urge you contact me and schedule an initial 90-minute meeting, where together we will explore what led you to ask for help at this juncture in your life. While this will likely be the highlight reel of your experiences leading up to the appointment, it will give us both a sense of whether you think this approach will likely address your therapeutic objectives.

Please note, I do not see the following patients:

  • Children;
  • Autistic people or those on the spectrum;
  • Dementia/Alzheimer’s/neuropsychological cases;
  • Homicidal people;
  • Those with a history of trouble with the law (domestic abuse, multiple serious traffic citations, and alcohol/substance abuse patients…unless they have been in recovery a long time).