What is psychoanalysis?

Ways in which neo-analytic theories have changed Modern psychoanalysis include: 

  • Self awareness through free association.
  • Normalizing different perspectives.
  • Accepting the Social context.
  • The analysis of Transference. 
  • The association with the brain. 

There are several pioneers of Neo- analytic theories. 

  • Alfred Adler with Individual psychology 
  • Erik Erikson with psychosocial stages of development 
  • Carl Jung with analytical psychology 
  • Karen Horney with self realization.

In this brief blog we will discuss the contributions of psychoanalysis, ways in which it is relevant today, new analytical theories and what modern psychoanalysis looks like. 

What is psychoanalysis?

Psychoanalysis contributes valuable insights to modern day psychiatry. Freud’s work continues to give us valuable perspectives when it comes to understanding and treating depression and other similar psychological problems.

Even 80 years after his death, Sigmund Freud is undoubtedly the most well-known name in the field of psychoanalysis. His beliefs and views on the links that exist between the conscious mind, the subconscious mind, the body, and the environment around us are still as widely known now as they were when he first professed them at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Psychoanalysis is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as:

A therapeutic method, originated by Sigmund Freud, for treating mental disorders by investigating the interaction of conscious and unconscious elements in the patient’s mind and bringing repressed fears and conflicts into the conscious mind, using techniques such as dream interpretation and free association. Also: a system of psychological theory is associated with this method.

The father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud came up with the core tenets that characterize this approach during his early studies. The theory observes that unconscious processes have a significant influence over our actions and he called it the id, ego and the superego. One example of a childhood influence is sexuality, which can be dangerous if not controlled from an early age. 

Dreams are also seen as a window into your unconscious mind. Psychological repression is yet another key tenet – Freud believed that humans had to repress certain instincts to build a strong society. Lastly, transference refers to the way in which people respond to their psychoanalysts in much the same way they would react to key figures from their past.

The personality structure. 

The id, ego, and superego, according to Sigmund Freud, are the three aspects that make up the personality. Internal and fundamental urges and needs drive the id, which is a facet of personality. 

The id follows the pleasure principle, which states that it avoids pain and seeks pleasure. Because of its innate nature, the id is impulsive and sometimes ignorant of the consequences of its actions. The reality principle drives the ego. By attempting to achieve the id’s goal in the most realistic manner, the ego attempts to balance the id and superego. It tries to make sense of the instincts d’s and appease the urges that will benefit the individual in the long run. 

The ethical principle drives the superego. It behaves in accordance with the higher morality of thought and conduct. Rather than behaving intuitively like the id, the superego tries to behave in socially acceptable ways. It uses morality to encourage socially acceptable conduct by assessing our sense of good and wrong and utilizing guilt to urge it.

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The unconscious.

The unconscious is the portion of the mind of which a person is not aware. Freud said that it is the unconscious that exposes the true feelings, emotions, and thoughts of the individual.

The defense mechanisms.

The ego maintains a healthy state of awareness by balancing the id, superego, and reality. As a result, it distorts reality to shield the individual from stress and worry. This keeps potentially dangerous unconscious ideas and material out of the conscious mind. Repression, response formation, denial, projection, displacement, sublimation, regression, and rationalization are examples of defensive mechanisms.

Psychosexual development.

Sigmund Freud’s perspective on personality development (psyche). It’s a stage concept that says progress happens in phases as desire is directed to different sections of the body. Oral, Anal, Phallic (Oedipus complex), Latency, and Genital are the stages in sequence of advancement.

Where do these theories stand today? 

Many of Freud’s concepts have gone out of favor in psychology, but it does not negate the value of his work. At least some of Freud’s initial beliefs are supported by research. 

Many of Freud’s methods, strategies, and conclusions have been questioned, to the point that certain of his beliefs, such as his views on homosexuality and women, have come to be considered as harmful—and even dangerous—to some sectors of the community.

It’s important to remember that psychoanalysis is about revealing deeper insights into a person’s psyche, and this is vastly different from how we view the modern methodology and usage of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. 

Like many mental health practitioners, Freud believed that long-term talking therapy could treat most common mental illnesses. The type of approach he took to therapy (specifically the idea that mental illness was eradicable and that talking about problems could bring relief) was a new concept at the time.

  • Self awareness through free association.

Self-awareness is a goal of psychoanalytic therapy. And talking is the way to do it. The free flow of unconsciousness allows us to look inwards. Patients are encouraged to discover their personal truths via introspection and insight, and they are given the tools to do so. The therapist’s function is that of a companion who guides the patient through the process of exploring and examining one’s private thinking. 

By identifying and interpreting unconscious material as it emerges, the therapist helps the individual achieve deeper insight. In classical psychoanalysis, the individual would engage in free association while lying on a couch with the analyst sitting behind them, out of sight. In recent approaches to psychoanalysis, the couch is no longer considered an essential component of therapy.

  • Normalizing different perspectives.

As a system for understanding mental illness, or human suffering, psychoanalytic models provide a compassionate and normalizing perspective.

The patient can discern perceptions from delusions, wants from necessities, and theories from truths through psychoanalytic treatment. The therapist can help us reclaim our ability to care for ourselves and our loved ones by providing insight and corrected emotional experiences.

  • Accepting the Social context.

Freud was absolutely correct in his assertion that we are not masters of our own mind. All civilized cultures demand that individuals adhere to the norms, regulations, and expectations essential for cooperative living. Our socialization begins at birth, and it entails learning to conform to societal demands and internalizing them as one’s own. 

The main goal of mental health is to attain this uniformity while maintaining one’s individuality. This integrity necessitates balancing our demands for social connection and acceptance while respecting our difference in various forms, such as ethnic, religious, sexual, and so on.

  • The analysis of Transference. 

In psychoanalysis, the therapist serves as a “blank screen,” allowing clients to project unconscious sentiments upon the therapist that may have been directed against an important person in their past, such as a parent. 

Psychologists argue that transference occurs in everyday life, even if it’s more closely examined in certain forms of therapy. For example, a woman could feel overly protective of a younger friend who reminds her of her baby sister.

  • The association with the brain. 

Freud also suggested that the brain may be compartmentalized, or that brain activity can be divided down into separate components. Of course, his response was extremely rudimentary. Freud’s interests prior to the formation of psychoanalysis had focussed on constructing a neurological model of behavior. The neurological roots of psychoanalysis, according to today’s researchers, are also worth additional investigation.

Neo-analytic theories that have contributed to modern psychoanalysis 

  • Alfred Adler, was the first major theorist to break away from Freud. He subsequently founded a school of psychology called individual psychology, which focuses on our drive to compensate for feelings of inferiority. Adler (1937, 1956) proposed the concept of the inferiority complex. One of Adler’s major contributions to personality psychology was the idea that our birth order shapes our personality.
  • Erik Erikson, Erikson emphasized the social relationships that are important at each stage of personality development, in contrast to Freud’s emphasis on sex. Erikson identified eight stages, each of which represents a conflict or developmental task, calling it, the psychosocial theory of development.
  • Carl Jung, who later split off from Freud and developed his own theory, which he called analytical psychology. The focus of analytical psychology is on working to balance opposing forces of conscious and unconscious thought, and experience within one’s personality. Jung also proposed two attitudes or approaches toward life: extroversion and introversion (Jung, 1923).
  • Karen Horney was one of the first women trained as a Freudian psychoanalyst. Horney believed that each individual has the potential for self-realization and that the goal of psychoanalysis should be moving toward a healthy self rather than exploring early childhood patterns of dysfunction.

What does modern Psychoanalysis look like? 

While many people maintain a strong interest in psychoanalysis, the movement has slowed dramatically. Most analysts adopt contemporary approaches to psychoanalysis that have modified Freud’s version in obvious ways.

Dr. Hyman Spotnitz began developing the ideas and techniques which grew into Modern Psychoanalysis in the 1940’s, when he taught social workers to use talk therapy to resolve psychological disturbances which, he believed, had their genesis in early pre-verbal life.

Modern Psychoanalysis is a tried and tested method of therapy that has helped millions of people to deal with emotional, mental and personal achievement issues successfully. Successful Modern Psychoanalysis relies heavily on a number of techniques including goal setting, social skills development and procrastination resolution. 

Modern Psychoanalysis is a comprehensive theory of treatment which recognizes most emotional, mental and personal achievement issues as being able to be overcome with dedication combined with the right knowledge about the issue.

Modern Psychoanalysis, as expressed by Dr. Spotnitz, has gone “beyond Freud,” and addresses modern needs, since it “…has been reformulated on the basis of subsequent psychoanalytic investigation.”

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