Likely the most significant change in psychoanalysis is the way we understand people’s motivations. Initially Freud posed that we were driven to seek pleasure and avoid pain, but by the mid-20th century and beyond, we began to realize that human beings are relationship-seekers: we need and are designed for connection. Building on other schools of psychoanalysis, the Relational Psychoanalytic emphasis, begun in earnest in the 1980s, has helped us plumb the depths and expand the breadth of human relationships. Today, with infant research, attachment theory and research, along with ever-expanding insights into neurobiology, we are continuing to learn ever more about the importance of healthy relationships and the significance of unhealthy ones.

Almost everyone I see in treatment deals with all sorts of relationships: with their spouse or partner, with their parent(s) (deceased or living), with a sibling, with their child(ren), with God, with co-workers or a supervisor, with customers or patients or clients. Most also come to explore various relationships within themselves as well: that often a conflict we experience is between two or more parts of ourselves.

In many ways, relationships form the very “stuff of life,” and give meaning, create distress, and leave us often bewildered. I would invite you to invest some of your energies in deepening your understanding and enriching your appreciation of the relationships in your life.