Psycho-analysis is not a process of addition, but one of subtraction. Like a surgical operation, it undoes the results of old injuries, removes foreign material, and gives nature a chance to develop freely in her own satisfactory way.
=Simple Explanation.= So far, “the way out” sounds rather involved. It seems to require a special kind of doctor and a complicated, lengthy process before the exact trouble can be determined. But, fortunately for the average nervous patient, this lengthy process of analysis is by no means always necessary. People with troublesome nervous symptoms, and even those who have had a serious breakdown, are constantly being cured by a kind of re-education which breaks up subconscious complexes without trying to bring them to the surface. If the dead past can be let alone, so much the better. Sometimes a bullet buried in the flesh sends up a constant stream of discomfort until it is dug out and removed; but if it has carried in no infection and the body can adjust itself, it is usually considered better to let it remain.
The subconscious makes its own deductions. If resistances are not too strong it is often possible to introduce healthy ideas by way of the conscious reason, to break up old habits, and make over the mentality without going to the trouble of uncovering some of the reactions which are responsible for the difficulty.
=Moral Hygiene.= Because this is true, there has grown up a kind of psychotherapy which is known as simple explanation, or persuasion. As usually practised, this kind of re-education pays very little attention to the ultimate cause of “nerves.” It has little to say about repressed instincts or the real reasons for fearful emotions and physical symptoms. Instead, it attacks the symptom itself, contenting itself with teaching the patient that his trouble is psychic in origin; that it is based on exaggerated suggestibility and uncontrolled emotionalism; that it is made out of false ideas about the body, illogical conclusions, and unhealthy feeling-tones; and that it may be cured by a kind of moral hygiene, which breaks up these old habits and replaces them with new and better ones. It tries to inculcate the cheerful attitude of mind; to give the patient the conviction of power; to correct his false ideas about his stomach, his heart, or his head; to train him out of his emotionalism; to lead him into a state of mind more largely controlled by reason; and to make him find some useful and absorbing work.