Psychoanalytic theory

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Psychoanalytic theory is the theory of personality organization and the dynamics of personality development that guides psychoanalysis, a clinical method for treating psychopathology. First laid out by Sigmund Freud in the late 19th century, psychoanalytic theory has undergone many refinements since his work. Psychoanalytic theory came to full prominence in the last third of the twentieth century as part of the flow of critical discourse regarding psychological treatments after the 1960s, long after Freud's death in 1939, [1] and its validity is now widely disputed or rejected. [2] [3] Freud had ceased his analysis of the brain and his physiological studies and shifted his focus to the study of the mind and the related psychological attributes making up the mind, and on treatment using free association and the phenomena of transference. His study emphasized the recognition of childhood events that could influence the mental functioning of adults. His examination of the genetic and then the developmental aspects gave the psychoanalytic theory its characteristics. [4] Starting with his publication of The Interpretation of Dreams in 1899, his theories began to gain prominence.

Psychoanalysis psychological theory that was founded in 1890 by the Viennese neurologist Sigmund Freud

Psychoanalysis is a set of theories and therapeutic techniques related to the study of the unconscious mind, which together form a method of treatment for mental-health disorders. The discipline was established in the early 1890s by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud and stemmed partly from the clinical work of Josef Breuer and others. Psychoanalysis was later developed in different directions, mostly by students of Freud such as Alfred Adler and Carl Gustav Jung, and by neo-Freudians such as Erich Fromm, Karen Horney and Harry Stack Sullivan. Freud retained the term psychoanalysis for his own school of thought.

Psychopathology is the scientific study of mental disorders, including efforts to understand their genetic, biological, psychological, and social causes; develop classification schemes (nosology) which can improve treatment planning and treatment outcomes; understand the course of psychiatric illnesses across all stages of development; more fully understand the manifestations of mental disorders; and investigate potentially effective treatments.

Sigmund Freud Austrian neurologist known as the founding father of psychoanalysis

Sigmund Freud was an Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis, a clinical method for treating psychopathology through dialogue between a patient and a psychoanalyst.

Contents

Terminology and definition

Psychoanalytic and psychoanalytical are used in English. The latter is the older term, and at first simply meant 'relating to the analysis of the human psyche'. But with the emergence of psychoanalysis as a distinct clinical practice, both terms came to describe that. Although both are still used, today, the normal adjective is psychoanalytic. [5]

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 associated with this method. [6]

Through the scope of a psychoanalytic lens, humans are described as having sexual and aggressive drives. Psychoanalytic theorists believe that human behavior is deterministic. It is governed by irrational forces, and the unconscious, as well as instinctual and biological drives. Due to this deterministic nature, psychoanalytic theorists do not believe in free will. [7]

The beginnings

Freud first began his studies on psychoanalysis in collaboration with Dr. Josef Breuer, especially when it came to the study on Anna O. [8] The relationship between Freud and Breuer was a mix of admiration and competition, based on the fact that they were working together on the Anna O. case and had to balance two different ideas as to her diagnosis and treatment. Today, Breuer can be considered the grandfather of psychoanalysis. [9] Anna O. was subject to both physical and psychological disturbances, such as not being able to drink out of fear. [10] Breuer and Freud both found that hypnosis was a great help in discovering more about Anna O. and her treatment. The research and ideas behind the study on Anna O. were highly referenced in Freud's lectures on the origin and development of psychoanalysis.

Josef Breuer Austrian physician

Josef Breuer was a distinguished physician who made key discoveries in neurophysiology, and whose work in the 1880s with his patient Bertha Pappenheim, known as Anna O., developed the talking cure and laid the foundation to psychoanalysis as developed by his protégé Sigmund Freud.

Anna O. Austrian feminist

Anna O. was the pseudonym of a patient of Josef Breuer, who published her case study in his book Studies on Hysteria, written in collaboration with Sigmund Freud. Her real name was Bertha Pappenheim (1859–1936), an Austrian-Jewish feminist and the founder of the Jüdischer Frauenbund.

These observations led Freud to theorize that the problems faced by hysterical patients could be associated with painful childhood experiences that could not be recalled. The influence of these lost memories shaped the feelings, thoughts and behaviours of patients. These studies contributed to the development of the psychoanalytic theory. [11]

Personality structure

Sigmund Freud determined that the personality consists of three different elements, the id, the ego and the superego. The id is the aspect of personality that is driven by internal and basic drives and needs. These are typically instinctual, such as hunger, thirst, and the drive for sex, or libido. The id acts in accordance with the pleasure principle, in that it avoids pain and seeks pleasure. Due to the instinctual quality of the id, it is impulsive and often unaware of implications of actions. The ego is driven by the reality principle. The ego works to balance the id and superego, by trying to achieve the id's drive in the most realistic ways. It seeks to rationalize the id's instinct and please the drives that benefit the individual in the long term. It helps separate what is real, and realistic of our drives as well as being realistic about the standards that the superego sets for the individual. The superego is driven by the morality principle. It acts in connection with the morality of higher thought and action. Instead of instinctively acting like the id, the superego works to act in socially acceptable ways. It employs morality, judging our sense of wrong and right and using guilt to encourage socially acceptable behavior. [7] [12]

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. There are variety of psychoanalytic techniques used to access and understand the unconscious, ranging from methods like hypnosis, free association, and dream analysis. Dreams allow us to explore the unconscious; according to Freud, they are "the 'royal road' to the unconscious". [13] Dreams are composed of latent and manifest content. Whereas latent content is the underlying meaning of a dream that may not be remembered when a person wakes up, manifest content is the content from the dream that a person remembers upon waking and can be analyzed by a psychoanalytic psychologist. Exploring and understanding the manifest content of dreams can inform the individual of complexes or disorders that may be under the surface of their personality. Dreams can provide access to the unconscious that is not easily accessible. [14]

Freudian slips (also known as parapraxes) occur when the ego and superego do not work properly, exposing the id and internal drives or wants. They are considered mistakes revealing the unconscious. Examples range from calling someone by the wrong name, misinterpreting a spoken or written word, or simply saying the wrong thing. [15]

Defense mechanisms

The ego balances the id, superego, and reality to maintain a healthy state of consciousness. It thus reacts to protect the individual from any stressors and anxiety by distorting reality. This prevents threatening unconscious thoughts and material from entering the consciousness. The different types of defense mechanisms are: Repression, reaction formation, denial, projection, displacement, sublimation, regression, and rationalization. [16]

Psychology theories

Psychosexual development

Freud's take on the development of the personality (psyche). It is a stage theory that believes progress occurs through stages as the libido is directed to different body parts. The different stages, listed in order of progression, are: Oral, Anal, Phallic (Oedipus complex), Latency, Genital. The Genital stage is achieved if people meet all their needs throughout the other stages with enough available sexual energy. Individuals who don't have their needs met in a given stage become fixated, or "stuck" in that stage.

Neo-analytic theory

Freud's theory and work with psychosexual development lead to Neo-Analytic/ Neo-Freudians who also believed in the importance of the unconscious, dream interpretations, defense mechanisms and the integral influence of childhood experiences but had objections to the theory as well. They do not support the idea that development of the personality stops at age 6, instead they believed development spreads across the lifespan. They extended Freud's work and encompassed more influence from the environment and the importance of conscious thought along with the unconscious. The most important theorists are Erik Erikson (Psychosocial Development), Anna Freud, Carl Jung, Alfred Adler and Karen Horney, and including the school of object relations.

Critics of psychoanalytic theory

The psychoanalytic approach has a variety of advantages and limitations that have spurred further research and expansion into the realm of personality development.

Advantages

Limits

Psychoanalysis and aesthetics

Psychoanalytic theory is a major influence in Continental philosophy and in aesthetics in particular. Freud is considered a philosopher in some areas, and other philosophers, such as Jacques Lacan, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Derrida have written extensively on how psychoanalysis informs philosophical analysis. [21] [22] [23] [24]

Psychoanalysis and literature

When analysing literary texts, the psychoanalytic theory could be utilized to decipher or interpret the concealed meaning within a text, or to better understand the author's intentions. Through the analysis of motives, Freud's theory can be used to help clarify the meaning of the writing as well as the actions of the characters within the text. [25]

Further reading

Books

Online papers

Others

Related Research Articles

Ernest Jones Welsh psychiatrist & psychoanalyst

Alfred Ernest Jones was a Welsh neurologist and psychoanalyst. A lifelong friend and colleague of Sigmund Freud from their first meeting in 1908, he became his official biographer. Jones was the first English-speaking practitioner of psychoanalysis and became its leading exponent in the English-speaking world. As President of both the International Psychoanalytical Association and the British Psycho-Analytical Society in the 1920s and 1930s, Jones exercised a formative influence in the establishment of their organisations, institutions and publications.

Id, ego and super-ego three parts of the psychic apparatus defined in Sigmund Freuds structural model of the psyche

The id, ego, and super-ego are three distinct, yet interacting agents in the psychic apparatus defined in Sigmund Freud's structural model of the psyche.

Melanie Klein British Austrian born psychoanalyst

Melanie Klein née Reizes was an Austrian-British author and psychoanalyst who is known for her work in the world of developmental psychology. According to her, children didn’t need love from parents and they didn’t need to be treated with tenderness. She was strictly again Bowlby’s idea that early parenting was crucial in emotional development. Although soon proven to be completely wrong.

Freudian slip

A Freudian slip, also called parapraxis, is an error in speech, memory, or physical action that occurs due to the interference of an unconscious subdued wish or internal train of thought. The concept is part of classical psychoanalysis. Classical examples involve slips of the tongue, but psychoanalytic theory also embraces misreadings, mishearings, temporary forgettings, and the mislaying and losing of objects.

Karl Abraham psychoanalyst

Karl Abraham was an influential German psychoanalyst, and a collaborator of Sigmund Freud, who called him his 'best pupil'.

Preconscious

In psychoanalysis, preconscious is the loci preceding consciousness. Thoughts are preconscious when they are unconscious at a particular moment, but are not repressed. Therefore, preconscious thoughts are available for recall and easily 'capable of becoming conscious'—a phrase attributed by Sigmund Freud to Joseph Breuer.

Resistance, in the context of the field of psychoanalysis, refers to oppositional behavior when an individual's unconscious defenses of the ego are threatened by an external source. Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalytic theory, developed his concept of resistance as he worked with patients who suddenly developed uncooperative behaviors during sessions of talk therapy. He reasoned that an individual that is suffering from a psychological affliction, which Sigmund Freud believed to be derived from the presence of suppressed illicit or unwanted thoughts, may inadvertently attempt to impede any attempt to confront a subconsciously perceived threat. This would be for the purpose of inhibiting the revelation of any repressed information from within the unconscious mind.

Psychological resistance

Psychological resistance is the phenomenon often encountered in clinical practice in which patients either directly or indirectly exhibit paradoxical opposing behaviors in presumably a clinically initiated push and pull of a change process. It impedes the development of authentic, reciprocally nurturing experiences in a clinical setting. It is established that the common source of resistances and defenses is shame, further its pervasive nature in trans diagnostic roles are identified.

Ernst Kris was an Austrian psychoanalyst and art historian.

Edith Jacobson American German-born MD & psychoanalyst

Edith Jacobson was a German psychoanalyst. Her major contributions to psychoanalytic thinking dealt with the development of the sense of identity and self-esteem and with an understanding of depression and psychosis. She was able to integrate the tripartite structural model of classic psychoanalysis with the theory of object relations into a revised drive theory. Thereby, she increased the treatment possibilities of the more disturbed pre-oedipal patients.

Sigmund Freud noticed that humor, like dreams, can be related to unconscious content. In the 1905 book Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious, as well as in the 1928 journal article Humor, Freud distinguished contentious jokes from non-contentious or silly humor. In fact, he sorted humor into three categories that could be translated as: joke, comic, and mimetic.

Electra complex generally defined as the girlss desire to possess the father and to compete with her mother for the possession of her parent

In Neo-Freudian psychology, the Electra complex, as proposed by Carl Jung in his Theory of Psychoanalysis, is a girl's psychosexual competition with her mother for possession of her father. In the course of her psychosexual development, the complex is the girl's phallic stage; a boy's analogous experience is the Oedipus complex. The Electra complex occurs in the third—phallic stage —of five psychosexual development stages: (i) the Oral, (ii) the Anal, (iii) the Phallic, (iv) the Latent, and (v) the Genital—in which the source of libido pleasure is in a different erogenous zone of the infant's body.

Oedipus complex concept of psychoanalytic theory; a childs unconscious sexual desire for the opposite-sex parent and hatred for the same-sex parent

The Oedipus complex is a concept of psychoanalytic theory. Sigmund Freud introduced the concept in his Interpretation of Dreams (1899) and coined the expression in his A Special Type of Choice of Object made by Men (1910). The positive Oedipus complex refers to a child's unconscious sexual desire for the opposite-sex parent and hatred for the same-sex parent. The negative Oedipus complex refers to a child's unconscious sexual desire for the same-sex parent and hatred for the opposite-sex parent. Freud considered that the child's identification with the same-sex parent is the successful outcome of the complex and that unsuccessful outcome of the complex might lead to neurosis, pedophilia, and homosexuality.

<i>Introduction to Psychoanalysis</i> book by Sigmund Freud

Introduction to Psychoanalysis or Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis is a set of lectures given by Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, in 1915-17. The 28 lectures offer an elementary stock-taking of his views of the unconscious, dreams, and the theory of neuroses at the time of writing, as well as offering some new technical material to the more advanced reader.

Content (Freudian dream analysis) Freudian dream analysis

In Freudian dream analysis, content is both the manifest and latent content in a dream, that is, the dream itself as it is remembered, and the hidden meaning of the dream.

Robert Waelder (1900–1967) was a noted Austrian psychoanalyst and member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. Waelder studied under Anna Freud and Hermann Nunberg. He was known for his work bringing together psychoanalysis and politics and wrote extensively on the subject.

Freuds psychoanalytic theories

Sigmund Freud is considered to be the founder of the psychodynamic approach to psychology, which looks to unconscious drives to explain human behavior.

Censorship (psychoanalysis) (Censur) is the force identified by Sigmund Freud as operating to separate consciousness from the unconscious mind.

References

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