“I abandoned psychoanalysis. But I am a psychoanalyst”


β€œI am in a certain way a psychoanalyst – I am still a psychoanalyst from a certain point of view. From another point of view, I am not a psychoanalyst, because I refuse in my work with the family to use the psychoanalytic model. The psychoanalytic model was developed by Freud in the last century and Freud could not know the systemic way of thinking. Also, in my opinion, it is not true that the psychoanalytic model is only intrapsychic. A certain part of psychoanalysis is intrapsychic. For example, what Freud calls the parts of the psyche-the ego, superego, and id-are intrapsychic because they describe the way in which the psyche, the mind of a person, functions. But in therapy, the psychoanalytic model is not intrapsychic; rather, it is dyadic when it is correct, because it is in analysis that the relationship between the therapist and the patient, the transference, is analyzed. So Freudβ€˜s ego, superego and id and so on are intrapsychic. Freud’s transference is dyadic.

β€œ[…] Dyadic thinking is not enough, because the family is at least a triad. It is necessary to remember that a system is not the sum of dyads or the sum of individuals-mother and father, son and mother, father and son, son and daughter, daughter and mother. It is necessary to observe all systems functioning at the same moment. So psychoanalysis continues in the Aristotelian way of thinking and has no way of looking at other concepts, such as coalition of two people against a third person and so on; it remains an intrapsychic or dyadic model. It is necessary to go beyond even the triad.”

β€œ[…] according to the model, I abandoned psychoanalysis. But I am a psychoanalyst according to the rigorous study of continuity which my psychoanalytic mentors taught me.”


Barrows, S. E. (1982). Interview with Mara Selvini Palazzoli and Giuliana Prata. American Journal of Family Therapy, 10(3), 60-69.