New York City has a rich history of psychoanalysis. The first training institute for educating non-medical psychoanalysts in the United States – the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis – opened its Manhattan doors in 1948. Since then, the therapy type has flourished in the Big Apple.
The approach – which is based on the work of Sigmund Freud – relies on the idea of the subconscious, or the idea that your mind has unconscious drives and desires that shape your behavior.
Here's a peek into psychoanalysis, plus how it can help New Yorkers with their uniquely Gotham-based stressors.
What is psychoanalysis?
Psychoanalysts help you spot patterns in behavior and thought by being a “blank slate” that reflects your concerns
Psychoanalysis is the practice of putting our interior lives into language – of speaking and listening.
In psychoanalysis, the therapist serves as a "blank slate" for the client. The therapist may ask questions or prompt reflection, but they will not offer advice. Instead, the therapist’s job is to reflect your concerns – and assist you in spotting patterns in your thoughts and behavior.
This is very different from therapy types such as cognitive behavioral therapy, in which your therapist may teach you specific skills or give you homework.
The goal of psychoanalysis is to develop a stronger sense of self, independent of other influences in our lives
The “goal” of psychoanalysis is to move toward a kind of self-realization that allows us to take full ownership of ourselves.
Many of us have our lives symbolically defined for us by an ‘other': our parents, our health, our upbringing, our schooling, our faith, our work, or our relationships.
We may experience a part of ourselves we aren't comfortable with, or have thoughts and feelings feel alien to us or “not us” in some way.
In psychoanalysis, clients are encouraged to speak privately about complex issues in their lives, in order to untangle and discover their authentic self.
Why is psychoanalysis so popular in NYC?
Psychoanalysis has historically flourished in cities like NYC, I think because the dense, confrontational nature of urban areas raises existential questions in people that psychoanalysis is well-suited to address.
Living in cities can be particularly confrontational – in NYC, we are literally and figuratively confronted by the existence of tens of thousands of other people daily!
This generates powerful, existential questions in people about what sets them apart from others, how they understand themselves, and what it means to be a human being.
Psychoanalysis is well-positioned to help New Yorkers complex about these deep, existential questions, and arrive at an understanding and discovery that allows for a stronger sense of self in society.
In addition, or as a result of high demand, there are also many psychoanalytic training institutes in NYC, including the New York Psychoanalytic Society & Institute, the Psychoanalytic Association of New York, and the Manhattan Institute for Psychoanalysis. It becomes a cycle between what types of therapies are available and what residents are familiar with.
How can psychoanalysis help New Yorkers?
1. Build a greater sense of self and inner ease
My experience has been that psychoanalysis provides clients profound comfort and ease with themselves, and all their thoughts and feelings.
It offers New Yorkers a greater sense of self amidst the hustle and bustle of hectic city life, conflicting work and personal demands, and challenging interpersonal relationships.
We could all certainly enjoy a sense of effortlessness in a place like New York.
2. Gain insight into life experiences that have shaped who you are
People struggle universally shared issues – but ultimately, our suffering is deeply subjective to our own experiences and histories.
Psychoanalysis can help you understand how the multitudes of what you've experienced in your lifetime has contributed to your current life, as well as how those experiences can play into your future.
It can help New Yorkers who are curious to understand how the "puzzle pieces" have brought them to their here and now gain clarity, and insight into these factors.
3. Address common mental health concerns like anxiety and depression
At least one in five New Yorkers is likely to experience a mental health disorder.
Psychoanalysis is understood as a helpful treatment for a number of common mental health conditions that affect New Yorkers, including:
- Depression – Depression affects approximately 9% of adults in New York City 
- Anxiety – In one study of 1,000 City University of New York (CUNY) students, 26% reported significant anxiety 
- Identity issues
- Relationship issues
- Sexual concerns
The time you spend with your psychoanalyst can become a precious break in your (likely otherwise-busy) NYC schedule. It's opportunity to pause, and dig deeper into the here and now.
Especially in a city as fast-paced as New York, psychoanalysis provides an opportunity to reflect upon how – and various reasons as to why – we've become who we are today.
Ready to navigate the highs & lows of city life with the assistance of a psychoanalyst? Get started at Zencare.co.
In NYC? Dr. Marcus Silverman can help you take a deep dive into your personal history and inner world of thoughts and emotions!
Sources:  Thrive NYC, Understanding New York City's Mental Health Challenge