Training may only be discussed in the light of the scientific statute of psychoanalysis, because as soon as it is seen as a science, it requires scientists. This is the perspective from which our deliberations on the training of psychoanalysts developed. The psychoanalyst is neither a shaman nor a spiritual director, but merely a person of science.
Consequently, the first thing the psychoanalyst needs is a wealth of specific knowledge in this field of study. Since there is no university course - at least, in Italy – which comprises all the disciplines that a psychoanalyst requires in order to be up to the task, it has fallen to our School to make up for this deficiency. The School - adhering to the tradition inaugurated by Freud himself - accepts applicants from all cultural backgrounds and, during cycles of teaching and study, supplements their basic training with the missing elements. At the same time - for precautionary reasons that are amply justified in the theoretical corpus of psychoanalysis – it is required that applicants should submit to a personal analysis by a School analyst of their choosing. Lastly, during the start of the psychoanalytic practice, the applicant is required to discuss the clinical cases with at least one senior and experienced analyst.
In practice, this is merely a particularly rigorous revival of the fundamental aspects of traditional psychoanalytic training.
Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy
The above allows us to explain the reasons why the practice of psychoanalysis cannot be regarded merely as a psychotherapeutic practice and this means therefore that psychoanalysis does not fall within Law no. 56 regarding the profession of psychology. There are two main reasons:
• As Freud never tired of repeating; as is the case in biology, chemistry and physics, proper psychoanalytic training must be seen as an actual training. Put simply, it cannot be seen as a medical or psychological specialisation. In fact, on the one hand, both these types of training are insufficient, since they do not include teachings considered essential to the culture of a psychoanalyst; while on the other hand, they are redundant, since an elevated number of courses undertaken by psychoanalysts are completely superfluous. Moreover, as already mentioned, none of the degree courses currently provided by Italian universities meet the cultural needs of psychoanalysts. Conversely, our efforts are aimed at allowing psychoanalysis to develop as an autonomous scientific discipline, perfectly in line with Freud’s guidelines.
• The technique of psychoanalysis has always, essentially and above all, been a method of study, a cognitive tool. In a number of cases, this method of study has proved an excellent method of therapy. However, in psychoanalysis the therapeutic effect is invariably dependent on the fact that the cognitive purpose should maintain its primary function. In other words, it is true to say that if you strive for the cognitive goal, you will also achieve the therapeutic goal, while the opposite is not the case. In fact, if you do the opposite, there is no longer any rational way to distinguish pseudo-healing due to suggestion from actual healing. Freud’s continuous warnings against ‘furor sanandi’ and the risk of confusing the cognitive and therapeutic goals prove as much beyond any doubt. For it to be achieved, the therapeutic goal has to remain secondary. This prevents psychoanalytic treatment from being classed as mere psychotherapy, which would erase its main and most characteristic feature, namely the scientific study that lies at the core of analytical practice.