In an ever-accelerating world of rapid change, all traditions struggle to reinvent themselves to retain their relevance and stave off death through obsolescence. Psychoanalysis is no different, and in our current climate of hurried lifestyles and quick fixes, the question of how the arduous process of psychoanalysis can stay current looms large. Curious about the future of psychoanalysis and how it can maintain a vital edge in our constantly changing culture, I met with Dr. Francisco Gonzalez to capture his thoughts on the topic. 

Dr. Gonzalez cautioned that "unless psychoanalysis can do a psychoanalysis of psychoanalysis ... we run the danger of becoming discursively neurotic, regionalized, and short-sighted." In order to stay relevant, the field of psychoanalysis "needs to apply to ourselves what it is asking us to do with patients" and adopt an analytic stance towards analytic theory. He advised that "we need to think about where these ideas come from, to not get too attached to their facticity and instead to contextualize them in a continual remaking of history."

The concept of the frame, for example, has become culturally saturated, "so that we ended up confusing, say a 50-minute hour, with something that is unsaturated, which is the notion of the framed field." Unless we continually self-reflect, we are vulnerable to "cultural trappings" that may stagnate psychoanalysis as the rest of the world continues to move. Accordingly, Dr. Gonzalez asserted, we "need to do some historical work to liberate these concepts" so that they keep pace with the ever-shifting cultural landscape. 

Part of this process includes engaging with other disciplines and bringing sociocultural issues to bear on analytic theorizing. Dr. Gonzalez mused, "Psychoanalysis needs to be more in the world, and the world needs to be more in psychoanalysis." He is encouraged by the cross-fertilization of increased interdisciplinary work and cited cultural analyses and neuropsychoanalysis as examples of such collaboration. 

The future of psychoanalysis seems to rest in our collective ability and willingness to remain open, engaged, and reflective. If psychoanalysis is to stay relevant, it demands a constant reworking and application of its principles, as opposed to obliging the concretion of culturally saturated notions of what it is and how it is best practiced. 

Mark McKinley, M.A. 
IMPULSE Staff Writer 

Francisco J. Gonzalez, M.D., is a graduate of the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California and a past president of NCSPP. He has taught and presented widely in the Bay Area and published on primitive mental states, homosexuality, film, and sociocultural processes. He maintains a private practice in psychoanalysis and consultation in San Francisco.