What Is Psychoanalysis?

What is psychoanalysis? Read on to learn about psychoanalysis, its fundamentals, techniques, and treatment at Essence Health and Wellness.

Psychoanalysis Definition

Psychoanalysis is a set of psychological theories and therapeutic techniques emphasizing one’s unconscious mental processes. In plainer terms, psychoanalysis digs into how one’s past experiences or repressed emotions can impact present relationships, thoughts, or work.  Psychoanalytic therapy offers healing or catharsis to painful pent-up feelings in the unconscious mind.1

Table of Contents

What is Psychoanalysis

Questions About Treatment?

Our team is standing by to address your questions. Your call is confidential and no obligation is required.

Psychoanalysis vs. Psychotherapy

Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis is based on the theory that the unconscious mind greatly influences one’s behavior, thoughts, or feelings. Psychoanalysts are trained to help their clients uncover the innermost experiences, thoughts, and feelings that lie beyond their awareness.2

On the other hand, psychotherapy involves regular interaction between a psychologist and a client to make sense of the client’s emotions, bring about positive behavior change and overcome mental health issues.

Psychoanalysis vs. Psychodynamic Therapy

A psychoanalysis therapist uses the psychoanalytic approach that unraveling unconscious thoughts and actions is a prerequisite to understanding the human mind. In general, psychoanalysis treatment takes daily or regular visits that span a few years.

Psychodynamic therapy is one of the subsequent theories that evolved from Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis. The psychodynamic approach believes that childhood experiences and feelings can remain in the unconscious mind. These are said to greatly influence one’s actions and thoughts as an adult. Psychodynamic therapy is short-term and less intensive than psychoanalytic therapy. 

History of Psychoanalysis

The word ‘psychoanalysis’ came into existence more than a century ago and has been constantly revised and developed since then. The history of psychoanalysis will be detailed below.

Who Developed Psychoanalysis?

The founder of ‘psychoanalysis,’ Sigmund Freud, first used the term in 1896. He was an Austrian neurologist who developed the psychoanalytic theory when seeking an effective treatment for patients with neurotic or hysterical symptoms. 

When Was Psychoanalysis Founded?

Sigmund Freud formulated his psychoanalysis theory in the 1890s. Freud first introduced psychoanalysis in his essay “Heredity and etiology of neuroses,” written and published in French in 1896. 

Psychoanalysis Development

In the late nineteenth century, psychoanalysis theory evolved, and new psychoanalysis techniques were utilized in psychiatry. Taking Freud’s psychoanalytic theory into account, his students developed psychoanalysis in different directions, such as Alfred Adler, Carl Gustav Jung, and Otto Rank. Several others have also proposed their psychoanalysis techniques and methods, and psychoanalytic therapy is constantly being criticized and modified.3

Psychoanalysis Fundamentals

According to Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, the human psyche is divided into three fundamental structures: the id, ego, and superego. Read on for brief details on these fundamentals.4

What Is Id?

The id is the primal, infantile, and instinctual part of the unconscious. The personality of young infants is ruled entirely by the id, which is why they cry to demand immediate satisfaction. It is the only personality component present from birth, and it maintains the same characteristics throughout life. 

Ego vs. Id

The ego functions in the conscious and unconscious mind. It operates on the reality principle, making decisions based on reason and external factors. The ego develops from the id and serves to delay or forsake the satisfaction of the id’s urges. 

The id is driven by the pleasure principle, which strives for an immediate response to all desires, wants, and needs. If these urges are not satisfied immediately, it results in a state of anxiety or tension. 

What Is Superego?

The superego is a part of the unconscious that exerts conscience and self-criticism. It holds one’s morality and the ethics and values of society learned from parents and others. It develops around the age of three to five years.

The superego controls the id’s impulses and persuades the ego to turn to moral rather than realistic principles.

Conscious vs. Unconscious Mind

The conscious and the unconscious mind are one of the main contributions to Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis. The conscious mind consists of everything within one’s awareness. It consists of all the feelings, desires, and memories that can be thought about and retrieved easily. 

While there is complete awareness in the conscious mind, one has no idea of the information stored in the unconscious. The unconscious thoughts, feelings, urges, and memories may be unpleasant or unacceptable. 

Psychoanalysis Criticism

Psychoanalytic criticism can be the psychoanalysis of the author or a particularly interesting character in each work. The criticism is like psychoanalysis theory as it employs the unconscious, the Oedipus complex, etc. 

Freud’s psychoanalytic theory has been met with criticisms and revisions, mostly because of his focus on sexuality as the main cause of human personality development. 

Psychoanalysis Techniques

Psychoanalytic therapy requires different techniques and methods in personal sessions with a trained psychoanalysis therapist. These techniques include: 

Free Association

This is used in psychoanalytic therapy when the expression of oneself is uncensored and free-flowing to access unconscious thoughts. 

Dream Analysis

Dream analysis is a psychoanalysis technique that gives meaning to dreams and fantasies. Psychoanalysis therapists evaluate significant images and symbols from their client’s dreams and retrace them to their past experiences, thoughts, and feelings. 

Transference Psychoanalysis

In transference psychoanalysis, a client’s feelings from a past relationship are unconsciously transferred to their therapist. These feelings are analyzed to gain insight into their unconscious mind, past experiences, and influence on their actions. 

Freudian Slip

It is known as a slip of the tongue, which reveals the client’s unconscious thoughts, urges, and repressed emotions. 

Lacanian Psychoanalysis

Jacques Lacan expressed his psychoanalytic theory in what he called ‘Lacanian psychoanalysis.’ Lacan’s theory explains the mind, behavior, and culture through a reexamined outlook on Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis using post-structuralism. 

Psychoanalysis Defense Mechanism

In psychoanalytic therapy, clients may display unconscious psychological strategies to protect themselves from thoughts and feelings causing anxiety. This unconscious response to internal conflict and distress is a defense mechanism.

Psychoanalysis and Other Therapies at Essence Health and Wellness Clinic

Essence health and wellness clinic offers psychoanalysis treatment, chiropractic care, massage therapy, counseling, and psychotherapy. Their multidisciplinary team offers a diverse range of services offering excellent clinical care to clients. 

How Is Behavior Therapy Different Than Psychoanalysis?

The main difference between behavior therapy and psychoanalysis is the approach taken toward treatment. Psychoanalysis aims to offer catharsis after a long-term treatment focused on bringing awareness to the client’s unconscious mind.5

However, behavior therapy seeks to bring about behavioral change in clients. The therapist works with the client in several sessions, identifying negative thought processes and emotions and focusing on positive behavior change.

How Long Does Psychoanalysis Typically Take?

People experiencing persistent psychological difficulties, personality disorders, internal conflicts, and mental disorders can benefit from psychoanalytic therapy. The timeframe for psychoanalysis is usually four to five sessions per week, lasting for an average of four to five years or longer. 

Psychoanalysis at Essence Health and Wellness

If you or your loved one is interested in pursuing psychoanalysis, or other therapeutic methods, Essence Health and Wellness is a great resource to begin healing. Our qualified professionals are available to equip you with the necessary tools and techniques to achieve and maintain long-term wellness.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to our team if you have any additional questions.