This is what we make conscious—the patterns that disable and limit people—the ones that give ulcers either to the individuals themselves or to recipients in their orbit.
We understand these patterns and with painstaking effort help the afflicted come to understand them in themselves and others. We help them respond strategically instead of reacting impulsively or holding back endlessly.
We help people separate the wheat from the chaff, see the forest through the trees, find the leading edge, sort through competing priorities, and make rightful claims and necessary renunciations. We help them develop an ethical flexibility of mind and attitude, knowing when to be a stickler and when to give a wink and a nod, when to finesse a situation and when to play strictly by the rules, when to speak up and when to suck it up.
We help people navigate power dynamics, make adaptive distinctions and discriminations, and pick their battles. A psychoanalytic “read” can “pull” for good outcomes and help avoid blunders or traps. We help tame our baser instincts and harness optimal aggression, assertion, competition, intimacy, and sexuality instead of ending up mired in destructive, cut-throat aggression, impotent rage, or dehumanizing sexuality.
We help people be patient or impatient as circumstances dictate, suffer appropriately but not excessively, and rejoice to the utmost when warranted. We help people grow, change, integrate, modulate, decrease self-absorption, regard themselves accurately, take themselves seriously but not too seriously, free up emotional energy in the service of creativity and mastery—in short, become their best selves.
The reverberations go well beyond the individual, fostering richer and fuller family life, as well as functional and productive organizations, all with enormous ripple effect. Our work can help break the kinds of destructive cycles which, if left untreated, keep echoing through the generations.
—Wendy Jacobson, Why Bother? A Psychoanalytic Graduation Speech