Psychoanalysis is a set of psychological and therapeutic theories and techniques. It was started by Austrian physician Sigmund Freud, with experience from the clinical work of Josef Breuer and others.
Since then, psychoanalysis has expanded and been revised, reformed and developed in different ways. This was initially by Freud's own colleagues and students, such as Alfred Adler and Carl Jung. They went on to develop their own ideas independently from Freud.
The basic ideas of psychoanalysis are:
- besides inherited personality, a person's development is determined by events in early childhood;
- human behavior, experience, and thought is largely influenced by unconscious irrational drives;
- attempts to bring these drives into awareness meet psychological resistance in the form of defence mechanisms;
- conflicts between conscious and unconscious (repressed) material can result in mental disturbances such as neurosis, neurotic traits, anxiety, depression etc.;
- liberation from the effects of the unconscious material is achieved by bringing this material into the conscious mind (e.g. by the skilled guidance of the analyst.
Under the broad umbrella of "psychoanalysis" there are at least 22 different approaches to the theory and clinical treatment. The term also refers to a method of studying child development.
Freudian psychoanalysis uses a type of treatment where the subject (analytic patient) talks, including free associations, fantasies, and dreams. From these the analyst works out the unconscious conflicts which cause the patient's symptoms and character problems. By interpreting them for the patient, the analyst creates insight into the problems. The analyst identifies and clarifies the patient's pathological defences, wishes and guilt.
Psychoanalysis has been criticized on many fronts. It has been called a pseudoscience, and lacking in empirical support. However, it remains influential within psychiatry, more so in some quarters than others.
References[change | edit source]
- Erich Fromm (1992:13–14) The revision of psychoanalysis.
- Fisher, Seymour, Greenberg Roger P. 1996. Freud scientifically reappraised: testing the theories and therapy. New York: John Wiley.
- Popper KR, "Science: conjectures and refutations", reprinted in Grim P. 1990. Philosophy of science and the occult, Albany, pp. 104–110. See also Popper's Conjectures and Refutations.
- Webster, Richard 1996. Why Freud was wrong: sin, science and psychoanalysis. London: Harper Collins.
- Gellner, Ernest, The psychoanalytic movement: the cunning of unreason, a critical view of Freudian theory. ISBN 0-8101-1370-8
- Sadock, Benjamin J. and Sadock, Virginia A. 2007. Kaplan and Sadock's Synopsis of Psychiatry. 10th ed., Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 190.
- Michels, Robert. "Psychoanalysis and psychiatry: a changing relationship", American Mental Health Foundation.