R. Curtis Bristol, M.D.
Psychoanalyst and Psychiatrist
Care Philosophy

I am a trained psychoanalyst and board certified psychiatrist with a medical degree from University of Southern California.  I completed a medical internship, two years in psychiatric residencies, three years in post doctoral fellowship and five years in psychoanalytic training for adults, adolescents and children.   I pursued my own personal psychoanalysis for ten years as part of my decision to better understand my own mind and others. I successfully completed the curriculum of study and treatment of psychoanalytic cases under supervision through the accredited Baltimore-Washington Institute for Psychoanalysis under the auspices of the American Psychoanalytic Association.  (See PROFESSIONAL CREDENTIALS for further details.) 

I have been in private practice for 40 years.  My patients live and work in a global environment with complicated interpersonal problems compounded by economic, political, cultural and religious pressures.  Through extensive education, experience and world travel I have built the capacity to provide a neutral, private and safe environment permitting the pursuit of solutions for acute mental health problems as well as longer term, intensive psychoanalytic treatment. I offer psychoanalysis, psychiatry and psychodynamic therapy with and without medication.

I specialize in the treatment of depression, anxiety disorders, sexual addictions, obsessive compulsive disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, phobias, panic disorders, workplace conflict and persistent, painful and destructive patterns of feelings, behaviors and perceptions towards oneself and others.  

Psychoanalysis:

Psychoanalysis is a comprehensive approach to behavioral and relational problems which is often indicated when short term psychotherapy with or without medications has provided an immediate solution but deeper and longer treatment is desired and necessary for fundamental and lasting change. 

My initial psychoanalytic orientation was the body of ideas developed by Sigmund Freud to understand the mind.  Freud was the creative genius who understood the unconscious determinants of the mind, the role of unconscious conflict determining both normal and abnormal behavior and the effects of the past on the present. These constructs involve transference, resistance and understanding defenses as projection and denial.  The patient speaks freely about what comes to mind such as events of the day, memories, dreams and fantasies that provide data for psychological interpretive re-construction. 

Modern psychoanalysis has further evolved after Freud with many differing theories, orientations and psychoanalytical schools of thought.  These approaches have improved Freudian technique while altering his theories, such as his initial representations of women.  I consider myself a modern psychoanalyst following Erik Erickson, Robert Knight, Paul Gray, and Joseph Lichtenberg my personal mentors.    I was supervised by these preeminent psychoanalysts.  I am one of the Co-Founders of the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis involving the modern methods of Heinz Kohut and other self psychologists.

I have found that frequent weekly visits are important to improve the comprehensiveness of the process of psychoanalysis and to resolve core issues.  The psychoanalytic couch is used during these sessions because it is conducive to free association by the patient.  Face to face contact is useful too.  Psychoanalysis allows the mind to wander freely and to speak what ever is on the patient's mind.  The psychoanalytic procedure permits the emergence of the unconscious mind which is not accessible using other methods of treatment. Through mutual close process monitoring the patient and I repetitively wrestle with insights to modify behavior, thoughts and feelings and ultimately remove incapacitating, inhibiting and destructive symptoms.

Psychiatry and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy with or without Medication

Another approach in the evaluation or treatment of my patients may include medications and intensive short termed psychodynamic psychotherapy.  At times in one’s life, stress and symptoms are so extreme that psychoanalysis is not the first choice for treatment.  As a licensed medical doctor and board certified psychiatrist I may then prescribe medication such as antidepressants, mood stabilizers and sleep aids supported with psychotherapy promoting practical solutions and problem solving.  I do not provide “medication checks” for patients in treatment with others.

I consult with psychoanalysts, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, internists and other medical professions to determine the cause of difficult mental and medical problems.  I provide a diagnostic evaluation including a review of medical records, medication regimes, past and present mental health care and may order further medical and psychological testing.  

Often emotional health problems present as physical symptoms:  heart palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breathe, nausea and severe digestive issues.  Some of the diagnoses I have worked through with patients in this situation are post traumatic stress, obsessive compulsive disorders, somatoform disorders and chronic anxiety. 

I work with patients in workplace conflicts to include situations involving international and cultural issues.  Because of my experience as the former Chief Psychiatrist and Acting Medical Director of the Peace Corps, I have had worldwide experience with acute emotional diagnoses and interventions.  I consult with cross cultural embassy staffs, multinational corporations, governments, international organizations, and foreign educational institutions.

The overarching goal of the treatment is to achieve self analysis which is not dominated by self criticism nor clueless denial of the consequences of one's behavior. I emphasize the need for the patient to develop the psychological awareness and tools to thrive in one's family, community, and work place environments.

The assessment and therapy work I have described is with the strictest confidentiality. 

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