Do you want to improve your mind? To think more clearly? To have a better memory? To stay focused rather than being distracted?
There are many things that you can do such as improve your diet, exercise, take advanced education classes, take yoga or relaxation exercises or read challenging literature. Another possibility is to take cognitive enhancement drugs.
On Feb. 7, at Moody Gardens, philosopher of mind and neuroscience Dr. Walter Glannon will discuss a wide range of drugs that provide cognitive enhancement.
In this commentary I discuss how psychotherapy and psychoanalysis can also help a person gain a specific type of cognitive enhancement: self-awareness about your feelings and emotions that you may not realize are influencing your behavior.
As a licensed psychoanalyst I do not offer advice. Instead, I simply ask a person who consults me to talk about whatever comes to his or her mind.
After listening to a person over time, to the thoughts, feelings, dreams, recollections and events from the past or present, I may ask a question or make a comment that will help a person discover an insight, a hidden feeling or an emotional conflict.
But it is the person in psychoanalysis rather than the analyst who may become self-aware of something significant of which the person had not realized before.
This type of self-discovery and self-knowledge is a special type of cognitive enhancement that may or may not influence the person to think, feel or act differently. But this type self-knowledge may then help a person to better understand past, present and future episodes in the person’s life.
Psychoanalysis was once described as being the exploration of a cave in which the person in analysis is the explorer and the psychoanalyst follows behind the explorer and occasionally shines a flashlight on a dark corner to help the person find his or her way about.
What the person does, if anything, with the new self-awareness or self-knowledge is left up to that person.
Although psychoanalysis is not usually described as a way to achieve cognitive enhancement, it is my belief that it is one of the many ways that people can improve their minds to help them better understand themselves.