The Timeless Power of Dreams

Freud famously called dreams “the royal road to the unconscious,” and those of us who practice analytic therapy today have found great value in exploring the many stories our minds tell us while sleeping. This recent article in PsychCentral explains why our dreams offer such fertile material for psychology, and what benefits a patient can hope to gain by spelunking into the recesses of their minds:

A man started a job in which he had to learn a new computer program. On his first day of work, he couldn’t get the hang of it. That night he dreamed about being in an office environment where coworkers were making fun of him. In his childhood, his two older brothers had made fun of him. When he awoke he recalled his brothers, and he became aware that he had been emotionally blocked on his first day of work because he was afraid he would fail and be ridiculed. When he became aware of this, he went to work with a new attitude on the second day and quickly mastered the program.

This is just one example in the piece; others address topics such as personal limitations, creative block, and sexual shame. Often our dreams contain epiphanies and surface injuries we have long repressed. Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is how you begin to listen.

To learn more about unlocking the coded language of dreams, please contact the New York psychotherapists of PPSC.

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy in the Huffington Post

It’s not often that the mainstream media takes a moment to pause and define psychoanalytic therapy for the masses. Although this form of therapy has been considered the gold standard in for more than 100 years, these days analytic therapy is often drowned out by glitzy headlines touting the latest discoveries in neurobiology. Yet talk therapy remains a timeless asset for many people, one unlikely to be replaced by chemical regimens anytime in the near future. This recent piece explains the practice and benefits of psychoanalytic psychotherapy, beginning with a wonderfully succinct definition up front:

Your unconscious thoughts and feelings affect what you do without your even knowing it. When you're unaware that it's happening, you can feel and do things and not know why. This can lead to anxiety, depression, difficulties with relationships, and problems with self-esteem -- all caused by things going on in your unconscious mind. Bringing them into awareness can help you to understand them, rather than be controlled by them. This is what psychodynamic psychotherapy is all about.

The full article is a very clean and lucid piece of writing that should help anyone interested in learning more about analytic therapy.

If you’d like to find a New York therapist trained in psychodynamic techniques, please contact the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Study Center today.

Depression in Young Athletes

An interesting recent article in The Atlantic highlights what has become something of an invisible epidemic: depression among elite college athletes. National trends point to declining mental health among undergraduates across the board:

[T]he American College Health Association reported in 2013 that 31.3 percent of undergraduates surveyed felt “so depressed it was difficult to function,” and 7.4 percent admitted to seriously considering suicide.

Athletes are no different, of course. The article captures the dichotomy of what has become, for many young athletes, an unresolvable conflict between maintaining a warrior façade and crumbling within:

“I dreaded waking up. My body would ache. I felt physically sick,” he said. “It was very hard, as a man playing D1 football, to go to somebody and say ‘I’m having a hard time’,” Meldrum said. He marvels at his ability to have made it to practice every day while feeling so desperate. “Here I am, I’m feeling sick, I wished I would die, and I have to go out there and hit people.”

Depression is surprisingly easy to hide for some people, and college is the typical age that most clinical cases first arise. It is no wonder that college hides so many depressive students, both athletes and nonathletes alike. If you know someone struggling with clinical depression, it is essential to seek help.

We offer depression therapy that focuses on the origins and emotional factors behind this debilitating condition. Please reach out today to learn more.

When Depression Has Two Victims

A thoughtful new article in Scientific American addresses the many ways that depression can harm couples, upending the notion that depression is a solitary disorder. The article describes a number of shared repercussions that can follow from feelings of hopelessness and despair, tracing a vicious cycle:

A resounding body of research has shown how closely depression is related to relationships in a cyclical fashion: depression affects the quality of your relationships, and the features of your relationship can affect your level of depression. In other words, being depressed can cause you to pay less attention to your partner, be less involved, be more irritable or have trouble enjoying time together—all of which can cause your relationship to falter.

It’s worth reading the full piece for its taxonomy of depression-related problems that strike couples, including diminished sex drive, hopelessness about the relationship, a tendency to “act out,” and pervasive anxiety.

If you believe your relationship has suffered because of depression, it may be time to seek substantive analytic therapy. PPSC is one of the world’s foremost institutions for the study and treatment of depression, and we offer a number of extensive resources for those interested in excellent relationship therapy.

Click to start your search for a therapist in New York today.

Living with Anxiety

A vivid article on anxiety in last month’s Atlantic ignited a powerful response across the media. In it, author Scott Stossel describes the searing panic and existential dread that can overcome him even at in moments of relative calm:

On ordinary days, doing ordinary things—reading a book, lying in bed, talking on the phone, sitting in a meeting, playing tennis—I have thousands of times been stricken by a pervasive sense of existential dread and been beset by nausea, vertigo, shaking, and a panoply of other physical symptoms. In these instances, I have sometimes been convinced that death, or something somehow worse, was imminent.

Stossel addresses public speaking in particular as the classic anxiogenic situation, or one that produces anxiety. And his approach to calming his nerves goes far beyond any instructions on the label, including huge doses of Xanax and vodka:

Only when I am sedated to near-stupefaction by a combination of benzodiazepines and alcohol do I feel (relatively) confident in my ability to speak in public effectively and without torment. As long as I know that I’ll have access to my Xanax and liquor, I’ll suffer only moderate anxiety for days before a speech, rather than sleepless dread for months.

Stossel avers to having tried everything under the sun, with minimal results. His is a case of uncommonly acute and intractable anxiety, one which appears to resist both emotional remedies such as psychotherapy, and physical remedies such as prescription drugs and even low doses of alcohol.

Yet anxiety isn’t untreatable. In many people, it bears many of the hallmarks of obsessional disorders such as OCD:

Even when not actively afflicted by such acute episodes, I am buffeted by worry: about my health and my family members’ health; about finances; about work; about the rattle in my car and the dripping in my basement; about the encroachment of old age and the inevitability of death; about everything and nothing. Sometimes this worry gets transmuted into low-grade physical discomfort—stomachaches, headaches, dizziness, pains in my arms and legs—or a general malaise, as though I have mononucleosis or the flu. At various times, I have developed anxiety-induced difficulties breathing, swallowing, even walking; these difficulties then become obsessions, consuming all of my thinking.

Many of our patients here at the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Study Center are able to unpack the causes of their worry through focused anxiety therapy. Sophisticated psychotherapy remains one of the most powerful responses to chronic emotional conditions like this precisely because it treats causes, not symptoms. Many people discover that what lies beneath their anxiety can be addressed, and remedied, through nothing more than conversation with a trained psychotherapist.

If you’d like to learn more about anxiety therapy in New York, please don’t hesitate to contact us.