recaps of the top 'ask me anything' interviews from reddit and more...
I am a psychoanalyst, ask me anything!

I am psychoanalyst and clinical psychologist Aleksandar Dimitrjevic. With over 20 years of experience, I currently work as a psychological counsellor and supervisor in a private practice in Berlin and online. In 2009, I received a PhD in clinical psychology from the university of Belgrade and have teaching different courses of clinical psychology since 2000. At the moment I am also employed as a university lecturer at the International Psychoanalytic University in Berlin.

Since the beginning of last year, together with my colleague, I have been working on a project called "Berlin Psychoanalytic". This is our attempt at trying to make psychoanalytic knowledge and understanding of more than a century available to all.

Proof 1: Proof 2 (my website): AMA!

Edit1: Thank you everybody for your great questions! Unfortunately time has run our for this time around. However, in case there is interest, I would very much enjoy doing this another time again soon. I'm sorry there was not time to answer all of your questions.

January 11th 2020
interview date

Would you consider or think it possible to continue you work into your 70s?

(I'm considering psychology as new career path but at 42 it would have to be something I can keep doing well beyond 65.)


I can, though probably a bit less than now. The reason is curiosity. I get to know people in very personal, revealing encounters. And those are infinitely interesting to me. Don't forget that this might be the only profession where you get better with age. Don't give up, if you feel passionate about psychology!


Is Psychoanalysis pseudoscience and what are it’s advantages over psychodynamic therapy?

How viable is a career as a full time psychoanalyst in private practice in todays world?

  1. Some parts of psychoanalysis are pseudoscience, some completely uninterested in science. This is changing over the last decades, and I have some hope that it will become a truly scientific discipline, despite all odds.
  2. Evidence shows psychoanalysis to be the most effective form of treatment, if it lasts longer than 18 months (you may want to look at Jonathan Shedler's paper from American Psychologist, 2010). Psychodynamic therapy is less "intense," with less frequent sessions and more "present" therapists.
  3. I am not sure I have ever met a psychoanalyst who complained. If you are passionate enough about it to survive the training, you will just be doing the job you like. Most psychoanalysts do not have a boss and earn rather well.

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, professor. I asked these over in /r/psychoanalysis, but don't know if you saw them.

My first question is about hysteria. How did it go from being a huge, catch-all categorization in the 19th century to being basically exitinct at the end of the 20th, and what's the meaning of this "rise and fall" of a mental problem?

Second, if you were just graduating school and looking to apply to analytical institutes, what would you say are the most important considerations, not including price or location? What would you want to know about the institute in order to get a feel for its theoretical orientation?

I have many more questions but will leave it at that because it's not fair to others to demand so much of you. Thank you again, and I look forward to seeing more videos!

  1. Several authors believe that it has "transformed" into new-age somatic ailments: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, lower back pain, etc.
  2. Mental disorders are largely socially shaped/constructed, there numbers rise over the last 70 years, professionals vote about one of them being a mental disorder or not. They are not natural phenomena.
  3. Are many different psychoanalytic traditions taught? Is research taught? Although I would probably first ask: How much clinical practice will be offered and supervised?
  4. Thank you for being considerate.

How do you get your inner dialogue to be nicer?


I do not want it to be nicer, but more open and more honest.


Hello! Thanks for answering, I don't know if this is in your area but:

What do you think about absolute determination? In the sense that we don't really choose our actions, emotions or thoughts, but are instead a product of the physical evolution of our atoms and chemical reactions, which are out of a 'real' control?

In other words, are bad people like that because they choose to, or they were shaped by external sources to be like that? This includes people like Ted Bundy or Charles Manson.

Thanks again!


This is a famous topic in psychoanalysis. Like Spinoza thought there were chains of natural laws that governed the Universe (and Thomas Aquinas, before him, thought about God as the initial cause of everything), Freud thought there were sources of motivation in the unconscious that shaped our behaviour. In that sense, most of what we do many psychoanalysts would consider determined by our unconscious and our childhood experiences. I personally think that this is an exaggeration, that 1) other factors play a role, and 2) we do have a certain amount of free will (which we have to emancipate from the constrains of the Ucs).


What things do people commonly lack self-awareness in and what is something you wish most people realised about themselves?


Many different types of experiences: traumatic ones, usually our flaws, patterns of expressing emotions, "I am that type of a person"... Some people are not aware of there positive sides, though. Self-awareness is one of the most important features, but develops in dialogue, btw.


For someone who wants to study psychoanalysis and unconscious structures, what do you think is the best way to go other than becoming a psychoanalyst?

And also do you think can psychoanalysis make a comeback in terms of its popularity, both in clinical use and theoretical field?

  1. I assume the best are artistic creativity and playing with pre-school children. I learned most of what I know from persons suffering from psychosis, but that means becoming a psychoanalyst, I guess.
  2. I do not care much about popularity. We need to prove that our way of work does help people. If psychoanalysis is going to be silently incorporated into, say, mental health systems, I don't mind.

Whats the relationship of the analyst and the analysant in contemporary psychoanalysis?


It is difficult to say what contemporary psychoanalysis is, as there are so many different approaches. In the interpersonal/intersubjective tradition, that relationship is far more open and mutual than in classical tradition(s). Those analysts disclose their thoughts, feelings, personal experiences, if (and only if, hopefully) that can be beneficial to the patient.


What are common misconceptions about contemporary psychoanalysis?


That it is outdated. That it is non-scientific. That it is ineffective. If you watch our "Berlin Psychoanalytic" videos, we deal with those repeatedly.


Hello, thanks for answering our questions! I'm currently watching your Introduction to Psychoanalysis due to my bachelors thesis on "Language in Family Therapy".

What role does "Language" play in Psychoanalsis and what specific role does it play in a psychoanalytical treatment?



Several psychoanalytic traditions consider language of central importance (probably mostly the French ones, which is not surprising, I guess). There is a reasons it is called the talking cure, isn't there? Most of what we learn from patients comes through verbal exchange, and classical psychoanalysts (who talked rarely) used nothing but verbal interpretations to help their patients. In recent times, non-verbal communication becomes more and more important.


Why does everyone blame all their issues in their parents?


All sorts of research confirm that the basis of a personality is formed before the age five. Therefore, much of what is best and what is worst in us is closely connected to early experiences with parents. Now, in the process of separation from them in adolescence we tend to remember only the bad stuff. The become important again after you get your first child, but briefly.

I am not sure that evolution has planned for gratitude.


What are some reasons why cigarettes are so hard to quit? What are some tips to overcome this? Thank you.


I believe nicotine addiction develops in the brain with unbelievable speed, second only to morphine. It can easily be more physiological than psychological.


Where do I find the videos from Berlin psychoanalytic?


What’s your view on transactional analysis?


I do not know much about it, but Child-Adult-Parent always seemed to me like a version of Id-Ego-SuperEgo.


Can you tell us about your mother, yes?


I am disappointed you don't want to meet her.


Is Batman more insane than his average villain?


I am afraid I do not know anything about Batman.


Do you believe/agree that there is also a psychosomatic perspective in terms of diseases such as cancer?


Ti thelis, re, pedi mou?




I am really sorry, but I cannot provide advice when I do not know the person. I hope you can understand that.

If symptoms are in your opinion psychotic, you should talk to a professional.

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