What is the value of your mental health?
We work, study, produce non-stop, interact, marry, raise children, accumulate some assets, go through a pandemic, economic, family and existential crises. We get tired, move on and keep producing.
We tend not to pay attention to our anxieties and our most genuine questions for fear of getting in touch with them and not going back to being who we need to be in the world, nor offering what is expected of us in the infinite wheel of fulfilling tasks and obligations. The problem is that when we silence anguish and try hard to digest the indigestible, some symptoms appear and persist until we are willing to give ourselves a chance.
Depression, panic, insomnia, unexplained pain that persist, recurring nightmares, addictions, aggressiveness, melancholy, extreme anxiety, dropouts, insecurity, seclusion, broken relationships, discouragement to live life, just the life we struggled so hard to build. Everything that bothers us and is not welcome we sweep under the rug of the unconscious and the more we try to hide, guess what? More will dare to appear. The voice of the unconscious is subtle, but it does not stop until it is heard, as Sigmund Freud used to say.
Trying to silence the symptoms that insistently manifest themselves with medication alone is like trying to extinguish an erupting hurricane with buckets of water. Leaving psychic suffering under anesthesia does not work in the long term, especially in the current pandemic moment in which we live, where old unresolved issues, impossible to continue to be suffocated and accepted as if they were not there, have drastically emerged. The pandemic made the suffering more acute and with it brought us the emergence of solving some puzzles in our lives.
In the clinic, we psychologists, we observe all these complaints described here above, we observe the torment, the anguish, the fear of launching ourselves in front of the new and the unknown, the tiredness of oneself and the impotence of being, of doing differently.
But we still notice the disbelief and skepticism of some about the treatment of psychic pain through the word. Not to mention the old and outdated stigmas associating psychotherapeutic treatment with madness or exclusive only to class AA; not to mention the cruel self-imposition of enduring, suffering in silence and having to smile when you want to scream, such paradigms - crystallized in some - comfortably favor those who wish to be immersed in their symptoms, outsourcing the blame for their own stumbling blocks, thus remaining conveniently inert to any spark of change.
Quite often, we psi professionals are asked whether just “sitting and talking” works. It takes too long? Is expensive?
The therapeutic process does involve financial and time investment, but above all psychic investment, persistence and courage to listen. Valuing Psychology and the work of the psychologist or psychoanalyst who is permanently dedicated to the studies of the human psyche is also valuing life and a chance for transformation.
Research has already shown that for years after the end of psychotherapy, as well as the psychoanalytic treatment founded by Freud, that its positive effects extend and reverberate in the reduction of hospitalizations and very high expenses with medications, as well as the reduction of sick leave, reflecting positively not only within companies but also unburdening the public health system. In our society, value is given above all to frivolous and ephemeral objects, likes, number of followers, filters and fame, time, energy and large sums of money are invested in disposable items and strategies that make us look like someone we are not.
I will not go into the merits of whether the individual can effectively or not financially bear the costs of continued psychotherapeutic treatment, however I would like to leave the reflection on what value we are giving to our own mental health and what moves us more deeply while we often disinvest in discovering the most legitimate encounter we could afford, that with our own uniqueness.
Is therapy expensive? It depends.
Dear is the broken marriage, dear is the child who no longer speaks to you or the unresolved relationship with your mother. Expensive is repeating patterns of hurtful relationships and not realizing it. Face is the anguish of realizing that you are in a place in life that you don't belong to and don't want to be. Expensive is the waste of potential and a life without goals.
Expensive is wanting to go further, but not having the courage to get up.
Author: Andreia Hollenstein
Clinical Psychologist & Psychoanalysis
Berghout, C., Zevalkink, J., & Hakkaart-van Roijen, L. (2010). The cost-utility analysis of psychoanalysis versus psychoanalytic psychotherapy. International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care, 26(1), 3-10. doi:10.1017/S0266462309990791