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Psychiatry

  • The neurotic would like to trust his analyst — if only because he's paying him so much money. But he can't — because if the analyst really cared, he'd be doing it for nothing.

  • ... it must depend as much upon the patient's willingness to be cured, as upon the physician's skill in curing. There is neither force not magic in psychiatry.

  • For decades, you couldn't hold up your head without one. 'My analyst says ...,' you offered airily, and strangers knew you immediately for a person of education and discernment.

  • 'Are you seeing a psychiatrist?' as a conversation opener would nowadays earn you a punch in the nose, but for fifty years it was a compliment. It meant, 'One can plainly see you are sensitive, intense, and interesting, and therefore neurotic.' Only the dullest of clods trudged around without a neurosis.

  • Talking therapy ... it's for the worried well.

  • Where I come from these days, anybody who isn't seeing a therapist needs to.

  • She turned, as always, to analysis, being a twentieth-century woman and so subject to the superstition that what the mind could understand couldn't any longer hurt the heart, that what the tongue could utter was in the hand's control.

  • 'You seem to be reacting to your boyfriend as if he were your father,' your shrink may say stonily (unless she is a strict Freudian, in which case she'll shut up and wait until you think of it yourself, a process that usually takes ten years. This is why strict Freudians have such lovely summer houses).

  • Beware of the man who denounces psychiatrists; / he is afraid.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Seventeen Warnings in Search of a Feminist Poem," Half-Lives ()
  • Anybody who goes to a psychiatrist ought to have his head examined.

  • It's my profession to bring people from various outlying districts of the mind to the normal. There seems to be a general feeling it's the place where they ought to be. Sometimes I don't see the urgency myself.

  • ... all the art of analysis consists in saying a truth only when the other person is ready for it, has been prepared for it by an organic process of gradation and evolution ...

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1932, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 1 ()
  • My mom had the breakdown for the family, and I went into therapy for all of us.

    • Carrie Fisher,
    • in Carl Wayne Arrington, "Carrie Fisher: A Spy In Her Own House," Time ()
  • ... psychiatry is a dirty mirror ...

    • Anne Sexton,
    • 1961, in Linda Gray Sexton and Lois Ames, eds., Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters ()
  • Freud's sexism as much as his sex shaped the patriarchal and phallocentric bias of his theory and therapy.

  • Why if it wasn't for psychoanalysis you'd never find out how wonderful your own mind is!

  • That's the New York thing, isn't it. People who seem absolutely crazy going around telling you how crazy they used to be before they had therapy.

  • In psychoanalysis as in art, God resided in the details, the discovery of which required enormous patience, unyielding seriousness, and the skill of an acrobat — walking a tightrope over memory and speculation, instinct and theory, feeling and denial.

  • I am old enough to remember what it was like when the theories of Freud first escaped from the study and the clinic, and the great game of Hunt-the Complex began, to the entertainment and alarm of a war-shattered and disillusioned world.

    • Mary Butts,
    • 1933, in Nathalie Blondel, ed., The Journals of Mary Butts ()
  • Psychiatry's just a form of detecting — matter of putting two and two together and trying to figure out why the heck the answer isn't four.

  • As anyone who has received or dispensed psychotherapy knows, it's a profession whose mainspring is love. Nearly everyone who visits a therapist has a love disorder of one sort or another, and each has a story to tell — of love lost or denied, love twisted or betrayed, love perverted or shackled to violence. Broken attachments litter the office floors like pick-up sticks. People appear with frayed seams and spilling pockets.

  • I think people who go to a psychiatrist ought to have their heads examined.

    • Jane Ace,
    • in Goodman Ace, Ladies and Gentlemen, Easy Aces ()
  • The point of therapy is to get unhooked, not to thrash around on how you got hooked.

  • The last four years of psychoanalysis are a waste of money.

  • What new meaning might Freud's concept of 'penis envy' take on, if we consider the fact that in his lifetime the words 'clitoris,' 'vulva,' and 'labia' were not included in the dictionary and, in this country, the only word in Webster's dictionary for female genitalia was 'vagina'? Who decides what words are included in the dictionary and who decides what is real?

  • One should only see a psychiatrist out of boredom.

  • Her parents had searched through the past, consulted psychiatrists, took every moment to bits. In no way could she be explained.

  • Psychiatric services — that is, the attempt to help a person overcome his emotional difficulties in living — are priceless if successful or worthless if they fail.

  • I'm devoting my life to being a psychiatric patient. It's a vocation, like being a nun, only a lot more expensive.

  • ... if analysis works, you find out that the awful truths about yourself are not so awful. At the very least, you find out they're not original.

  • It used to be that if you were having marital difficulties (read 'humiliating sex problems'), you and your mate would go to visit a clergyman who was wise, avuncular, and a trusted member of the community. But sometimes sitting face to face with this awfully familiar person could be embarrassing. Could you really look him in the eye while wearing little white gloves and singing 'A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,' afterward? That's why modern people in the know choose to go cry in front of a total stranger with a master's from NYU, who keeps looking at his watch.

  • The Freudians describe the conscious as a small lit area, all white, and the unconscious as a great dark marsh full of monsters. In their view, the monsters reach up, grab you by the ankles, and try to drag you down.

  • One way to confront the self is through analysis. One way to approach God is through prayerful contemplation. I am not so sure that in their essentials these two ways are so fundamentally different.

  • All analyses end badly. Each 'termination' leaves the participants with the taste of ashes in their mouths; each is absurd; each is a small, pointless death. Psychoanalysis cannot tolerate happy endings; it casts them off the way the body's immunological system casts off transplanted organs.

  • Analysts keep having to pick away at the scab that the patient tries to form between himself and the analyst to cover over his wound. ... The analyst ... keeps the surface raw, so that the wound will heal properly.

  • If two people are repeatedly alone together, some sort of emotional bond will develop between them.

    • Phyllis Greenacre,
    • "The Role of Transference," in Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association ()
  • Freud is the father of psychoanalysis. It had no mother.

  • ... he would let me tell my dreams. That's the main difference between a husband and a psychoanalyst.

  • Every week Julie's therapist tells her she'll be happier if she's more selfish, not less. Judging by most people's behavior, everyone's therapist in New York must be saying this.

  • Fortunately analysis is not the only way to resolve inner conflicts. Life itself still remains a very effective therapist.

  • ... the idea of a finished human product not only appears presumptuous but even, in my opinion, lacks any strong appeal. Life is struggle and striving, development and growth — and analysis is one of the means that can help in this process. Certainly its positive accomplishments are important, but also the striving itself is of intrinsic value.

  • ... miracles occur in psychoanalysis as seldom as anywhere else.

  • Psychoanalysis in the hands of the physician is what confession is in the hands of the Catholic priest. It depends on its user and its use, whether it becomes a beneficial tool or a two-edged sword.

  • Psychotherapy, unlike castor oil, which will work no matter how you get it down, is useless when forced on an uncooperative patient.

  • ... he discovered therapy, and psychoanalysis became the great drama of his life. He absorbed its language and its insights in much the same way that he read great literature: he became wise in a vacuum.

  • I had been introduced to psychotherapy, in which the doctors let you talk, talk, talk, until you find the source of your problem or find another doctor.