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Page Contents: When you experience a lack of reassurance in psychotherapy.                    


I have had to terminate psychoanalysis rather suddenly after several years. My issues were childhood trauma, prolonged hospitalization of severely psychotically depressed mother and total physical abandonment by father. I talked freely with my analyst about my family’s financial difficulties and took loans etc. to pay for my treatment. I felt toward the end that he just was not hearing what I was saying. Also, I picked up on diminished empathy, lack of concern, and the feeling like he wanted me to leave. I did not get the reassurance I needed from him around these feelings. and given my history, I sure needed that. My plan is to seek a practitioner that my insurance will cover. I need to close this relationship and mourn this loss. To go back and terminate with the psychoanalyst will feel to me like emotional suicide in the sense that I will have been abandoned by him because once again, I am not “good enough” (can’t pay). He has no ideAS EXCEPT TO TELL ME THAT AS A TRAINING ANALYST i AM ALREADY RECEIVING ANALYSIS AT LOW COST. mIND YOU, i PAY UP TO 1037.00 PER MONTH GIVE OR TAKE A FEW DOLLARS DEPENDING ON HOLIDAYS ETC. Sorry for the recent capital letter mistakes. How long will I feel sad? What else can I do to help my situation?

Psychoanalysis is a rigorous form of psychological treatment that demands a considerable investment of both time and money; as you well know, sessions are usually several times a week, if not daily. For those who have the philosophical curiosity to look deep into their psyche, well beyond the surface of their symptoms, it can be an effective treatment. But, as I said, it’s a rigorous treatment, and analysts are trained to be emotionally neutral so as to avoid unconsciously directing the patient into the analyst’s desire. As the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan said, the analyst uses silence not in order to frustrate the patient but “in order to allow the signifiers in which his frustration is bound up to reappear.” [1]

In this sense, all other things being equal, your feeling that your analyst is not being emotionally understanding would be the very reason to continue the treatment. You were traumatized as a child, and so your psychological work is to come to terms with feelings of being emotionally neglected. After all, your analyst may not actually be indifferent to you; he could be using a certain therapeutic silence to draw out of you your feelings of being abandoned, so that you can talk about those feelings more openly.

Of course, in your case, all other things are not equal—money is a real issue for you. So, unless you truly want to make the financial sacrifice of valuing psychoanalysis over all other material aspects of your life, you may need to choose a less expensive form of treatment, such as weekly psychodynamic psychotherapy.

As to what you can do to help your situation, you give a very obvious clue, even though you yourself may not “see” it for what it is. While you were typing, you hit the Caps Lock key accidentally and produced a whole sentence with inverted capitalization. But instead of going back to retype the sentence you left it as it is and gave me a token apology. Well, that’s exactly what a victim does. He’s constantly holding up his wounds in the face of the “Other” in the hope of getting some recognition for all his misery. To step outside the victim role, it is important to go back and fix your mistakes; it is important to take personal responsibility for healing your own wounds, no matter who was responsible for inflicting them on you in the first place.

So my advice is to go back and terminate gracefully with the psychoanalyst, even if it feels like emotional suicide. Tell him about your finances. Express your gratitude for the work you have accomplished together over the last few years. Tell him your plans for less expensive treatment. Be honest. It won’t be suicide. It will be your claim to life.


1. Jacques Lacan, “The direction of the treatment and the principles of its power.” In Écrits: A selection, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: W. W. Norton, 1977), p. 235.


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