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5 reasons why I’ll return to therapy

For all the suspicion and humour around it, psychoanalysis offers some serious benefits

brunch Updated: Nov 04, 2017 21:45 IST
Rehana Munir
Therapy frees up other relationships by lessening the burden we place on them
Therapy frees up other relationships by lessening the burden we place on them(Photo Illustration: Parth Garg)

About five years ago, at a tough time in my life, I walked into the office of a psychoanalyst for the first time ever. I had as a background my own sketchy study of Freud,shrink jokes and some heartening first-hand accounts from loved ones. What followed was a year-and-a-half of twice-a-week sessions that lasted exactly 50 minutes each, on the same allotted days. If I didn’t show up for a session I still had to pay the quite considerable fee.Here’s why I see myself returning someday.

1.It surprised me

We live in an age where nothing is new. We’ve either, seen, done or heard it all. I had my own pre-formed opinions about therapy – how it would draw from certain psychological principles and theories. Cite defense mechanisms. Offer solutions and good mental health practices. To my surpriseI discovered itwas none of that. Instead, it was a long, meandering conversation punctuated either by my own insights (and often laughter) or useful connections made by my therapist. None of what she said struck me as being trite, patronising or obvious. And any psychological jargon came only, and embarrassingly, from me.

2.The rules make sense

Okay. Most of the rules. You never get over the fact that you’re paying for sessions you don’t show up for. And that the clock starts ticking at 11 o’clock, even if you’re 10 minutes late. Sort of like college lectures. And with the same benefits. It builds discipline. You’re motivated, even when you’re not. The rules governing the relationship between shrink and patient are sacrosanct. You can talk about anything during a session. And if your therapist feels the conversation is headed in her direction rather than your own, she’ll steer it back to you. A psychotherapist will only engage with you within the walls of her office – not on the phone, or socially. There are other mental health professionals who’re geared to take emergency calls.

3.It frees up other relationships

Freud’s equally celebrated and reviled method is sometimes called ‘the talking cure’. As someone who has no trouble talking about things routine or emotional,my initial apprehension was this: how is therapy going to benefit me when I’m comfortable discussing matters of mind and soul with different people in everyday situations? Early on in therapy I realised, talking about that recurring nightmare with your drinking buddy, or existential crisis with your neighbour’s cook might be comforting, but the shrink’s office is where those issues might be better addressed. Therapy frees up other relationships by lessening the burden we place on them.

4.It makes you really listen to yourself

And this is a big one. Since psychoanalysis hinges on free-flowing conversation, you discover patterns in your own thought processes as you talk, session after session. Even for the most astute and introspective minds, there are important revelations. The way you describe and connect things tells you, as much as the shrink, about what you think and how you feel. What you truly, madly, deeply feel. Psychoanalysis allows you to make that leap from thinking to feeling. They should put these benefits on the box.

5.My analyst now has a couch

One thing that disappointed me about therapy was that there was no couch. From Annie Hall to Dear Zindagi, I’d seen sage shrinks in chairs and dreamy patients on couches looking away from them. My sessions, however, were conducted across a table, interview style. Not that this impeded the therapy in anyway. But I quite like the idea of a couch. And my sources tell me my excellent analyst has now procured a greenish teal one. (The details are always important to us loons.) So I’m hanging on to some highly interpretable dreams. In a recent one, I approach a scary-looking room but tell myself: “This is a dream. And the fears are psychological.” Perhaps I’m ready to make an appointment.

The Psychoanalytic Theory and Research Centre, Mumbai offers details of certified therapists.

From HT Brunch, November 5, 2017

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