Janet Sayers, 20 July 1995
Is psychoanalysis flirtation, as Adam Phillips has suggested? Even when not sexually charged, psychoanalysis liberates longing from a deadening fidelity to the past. It lets dreaming off the hook – and provides a vacation from the ego – by declaring a moratorium on action. Freud famously told his patients not to make any major decisions while in treatment with him. His method seeks to exchange deeds for words in order to explore the wishful thinking in between. Like flirtation, his technique stops short of seduction, sex and love, to create a space in which to discover what we are doing by talking about the imagined fulfilment of our wishes to someone else – who often becomes their main object.