An examination of the use of psychoanalytic approaches in treating dementia therapeutically

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Coonan, Emma
Issue Date
Higher Diploma in Arts in Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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In the psychoanalytic tradition Sigmund Freud’s work centred around the gaps in memory and the repressed unconscious. Resistance on the part of the patient in Psychoanalysis was, he said, a violent and tenacious resistance, unknown even to the patient, extremely subtle, and hard to detect (Freud, 1963/1991, pp320-328). Freud’s efforts were to make conscious what is unconscious, lift repressions and fill gaps in memory (1963/1991, p486). But what about the gaps which come from cognitive impairment and degeneration? If the gaps aren’t caused by repression of a memory but instead the cognitive inability to retain the memory, can Psychotherapy have any impact on the patient? The gaps cannot be filled if the memory is truly lost, so this objective becomes instead about helping the client to recall who they are, their essence, and their being in the face of degenerative memory loss. Author Keywords: Dementia & Psychoanalysis; Therapeutic & Dementia