As the world seems to be moving quickly toward more automation and control built by predictive algorithms, there are now apps designed to help one find the “right” therapist, maximize treatment outcomes, and target symptoms. Of course, when seeking a psychotherapist, one should seek a good fit and appropriate treatment. However, it is often that effective and long-lasting treatment includes working through discomforts, being in the unknown at times and changing fundamentally how one relates to the problems one brings to therapy in the first place. It is in this particular cultural moment that I am choosing to study a much older tradition, one that has a lot of negative PR in my opinion, and a great deal of value to our current times – psychoanalysis. It is precisely because of AI, and the conflicts we face socially and politically that I am doing this now and precisely why I think it is even more urgent to study relationships and the unconscious more deeply.
My reasoning is as follows. We do not know what we do not know; in other words, many of our motivations and feelings, particularly those which are somehow objectionable or confusing, are not available to us consciously but they are often there operating in the background nevertheless – even for those who program all of our automated systems. Only that which can be made conscious and transparent can be programmed into AI systems; so a great deal of the human experience is not accounted for in these mental health apps. Most of the effective treatments in mental health so far, involve relationships – human relationships – even if there is a biological or genetic component to the underlying issues being treated. And relationships are complicated and are subject to our unconscious motivations and feelings.
So, this week I begin my psychoanalytic training with the hopes to develop myself into a better more conscious person in all of my relationships, personal and professional and in service of my patients, in particular.