Neurotic Symptoms: A Refusal to Accept Trade-Offs

Psychoanalysis teaches, correctly enough, that neurotic symptoms are due to unresolved, unconscious conflict. However, it would be more accurate to say that neurotic symptoms are due to the fact that the subject (the so­ called “neurotic”) chooses indecisiveness in the face of conflict: confronted with the necessity of having to choose between two things both of which he wants but only one of which he can have, he refuses to choose, as if hoping that by waiting only a little longer he would be able to have both. In this sense, the neurotic is simply greedy, preferring the pain of his “symptoms” to that of consciously relinquishing something he wants.

-Thomas Szasz, Heresies

 

 

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