Fitness to Practise What? The Destruction of Psychotherapy in 21st Century Britain

Phil Mollon

Contribution to the conference of The College of Psychoanalysts-UK ‘Are you fit to practise? From ethical framework to model of good behaviour’- London, 6 June 2009
Is psychotherapy or psychoanalysis a health care profession?

In his highly relevant monograph The Question of Lay Analysis [1926], Freud wrote:

“Some time ago I analysed a colleague who gave evidence of a particularly strong dislike of the idea of anyone being allowed to engage in a medical activity who was not himself a medical man. I was in a position to say to him: ‘We have now been working for more than three months. At what point in our analysis have I had occasion to make use of my medical knowledge?’. He admitted that I had had no such occasion.” [p 255]

He goes on to add:

“Indeed, the words, ‘secular pastoral worker’, might well serve as a general formula for describing the functions which the analyst, whether he is a doctor or a layman, has to perform in his relation to the public. Our friends among the protestant clergy, and more recently among the catholic clergy as well, are often able to relieve their parishioners of the inhibitions of their daily life by confirming their faith – after having first offered them a little analytic information about the nature of their conflicts. Our opponents, the Adlerian ‘individual psychologists’, endeavour to produce a similar result in people who have become unstable and inefficient by arousing their interest in the social community – having first thrown some light upon a single corner of their mental life and shown them the part played in their illness by their egoistic and distrustful impulses. Both of these procedures, which derive their power from being based on analysis, have their place in psychotherapy. We who are analysts set before us as our aim the most complete analysis and profoundest possible analysis of whoever may be our patient. We do not seek to bring him relief by receiving him into the catholic, protestant or socialist community. We seek rather to enrich him from his own internal sources, by putting at the disposal of his ego those energies which, owing to repression, are inaccessibly confined in his unconscious, as well as those which his ego is obliged to squander in the fruitless task of maintaining these repressions. Such activity as this is pastoral work in the best sense of the words.” [255-6]