Journal of Psychology & Psychotherapy

Journal of Psychology & Psychotherapy
Open Access

ISSN: 2161-0487

+44 1478 350008


The Drive to Relate: How Modern Psychoanalysis can Join with Modern Medicine to Improve the Doctor-Patient Relationship

Maureen O'Reilly-Landry

Advanced medical science and technology have made extraordinary contributions to health and longevity, but have simultaneously precipitated a psychological crisis for many recipients of medical care. Medical patients often express disappointment in the care they receive; they may feel dehumanized and that their doctor does not know or care about them. In addition, the medical literature is replete with discussions of the difficult problem of patients’ lack of adherence to medical regimen. While the power of modern medicine to heal and save lives has never been greater, patients are not always satisfied with the doctor-patient relationship or cooperative with the care that is offered to them. Relational and Interpersonal psychoanalysts believe that there exists an innate need to emotionally attach to caregivers, and that this need is even more fundamental than Freud’s concept of the need to gratify basic drives. Modern psychoanalysis emphasizes the importance to mental health of attention to the subjective and relational dimensions of life. Psychoanalytic research has demonstrated that being emotionally attended to, treated as subject, not merely an object, for example, has calming and healing properties. The present paper describes contemporary psychoanalytic concepts that can be utilized to better understand and address the medical patient’s experience and behavior within the context of modern medicine. Drawing on theory and research, recommendations are made for improving the psychological dimension of modern medicine through attention to the subjective experience of both medical patients and clinicians.