Psycoanalysis Essay, Research Paper
Psychoanalysis is based on the observation that individuals are often unaware of
many of the factors that determine their emotions and behavior. These unconscious
factors may create unhappiness or difficulties in work and in love relationships, or
disturbances in mood and self-esteem.
Known as the “father of psychology,” Sigmund Freud developed many of the first
theories of modern physiology. He put forth many new concepts about sexuality,
consciousness, unconsciousness and instincts. It was these concepts that enabled him to
found the school of psychology known as psychoanalysis. The cornerstone of Sigmund
Freud’s psychoanalysis is the interpretation of dreams. Freud called dream-interpretation
the “via reggia,” or the “royal road” to the unconscious, and it is his theory of dreams that
has best stood the test of time over a period of more than seventy years. Many of his
insights into the human mind, which were revolutionary at the turn of the century, are
now widely accepted by most schools of psychology. Although others before and during
his time had begun to realize the role of unconscious mental activity, Freud was the first
one to really understand its importance. Through his extensive work with patients and
through his theories, he showed that factors which influence thought and action exist
outside of awareness, that unconscious conflict plays a part in determining both normal
and abnormal behavior. Over time, new ideas have improved upon the field, and
psychoanalytic practice has adapted and expanded. Like Freud, psychoanalysts believe
that psychoanalysis is the strongest and most sophisticated tool for obtaining further
knowledge of the mind, and that by using this knowledge, patients are able to free
themselves from the mental suffering they endure.
Freud developed theories about the parts of the conscious and unconscious, which
developed during the first eight years of life. He separated them into three parts: the id,
ego and super ego. The id possesses the instincts that we gain when we are born. It is the
most important part of the three components, for it provides the basic necessities, such as
the will to survive and the desire to obtain food and to seek shelter. The ego represents
the voluntary behavior of the human body. It is the link between the id and the outside
world. It gives us the ability to choose. The ego s main job is the awareness of stimuli.
The id and the ego control the demands of instincts and also have many important
defenses against anxiety, for example, blaming others. The third and last aspect of the
mind is the super ego, also known as the conscience. “It basically maintains the
information learned from the parents admonitions through the early years of life”(Webb,
127). It represents lessons and experiences a human goes through during his lifetime.
Freud developed a theory that each of the three basic mental parts keeps each other in
check, so that each has a specific power over the other but all are equal.
For more than twenty years, Freud had been developing his psychological theory
of psychoanalysis. However, Freud, even though he had published extensively in
respectable psychological journals, didn t receive much recognition. It wasn t until the
1900 publication of his book Die Traumdeutung, translated as The Interpretation of
Dreams, that he began to attract a small following in Europe. A few Viennese
intellectuals started meeting regularly at his home to discuss his work. By April of 1908
this group had become large enough to organize the “First International Congress of
Psychoanalysis” in the Austrian city of Salzburg. But this was all still very small. Most of
the writing about psychoanalysis was still in German and not many people outside of
Europe even knew about it. However, in America, some rumors had begun to spread
about Freud as the promoter of a strange new theory that emphasized sexuality and the
unconscious, but not many people had any direct knowledge of him or his work. Another
mental theorist, Hall, had also emphasized sexuality in his own theorizing about child
development and adolescence, and was among the first Americans to read Freud s work.
He was very impressed with it and invited Freud to give lectures in America. It was from
this that psychoanalysis spread to the English seeking world and gained immence
As a therapy, psychoanalytic treatment demonstrates how unconscious factors
affect current relationships and patterns of behavior. It then traces them back to their
origins and shows how they have changed and developed over time. (Anastasi, 56) After
awhile, it helps the individual to deal better with the realities of adult life. In the course of
a patient’s treatment, he becomes aware of the underlying sources of his difficulties.
These sources are not so much intellectual, but emotional. Typically, the patient comes
four or five times a week, lies on a couch, and says everything that comes to mind, this
method is known as free-association. As the patient speaks, the unconscious sources of
his difficulties gradually begin to emerge in the subjects that the patient finds hard to talk
about. The analyst helps elaborate these unconscious feelings for the patient, who
corrects, rejects, or adds further thoughts and feelings. Eventually the patient’s life,
behavior, relationships, and sense of self all begin to change in deep and abiding ways.
Although psychoanalysis began as a tool for relieving emotional suffering, it is
not only a therapy. It is also a method for learning about the mind, a way of
understanding the processes of normal everyday mental functioning and the stages of
normal development from infancy to old age. Also, since psychoanalysis seeks to explain
how the human mind works, it gives insight into whatever the human mind produces.
Psychoanalytical knowledge is the basis of all other approaches to therapy. There is not a
form of psychology that doesn t in some way stem from psychoanalysis.
Today, psychoanalysis remains the predominant psychological study. Over 50%
of psychologists are psychoanalysts. Thousands of people visit psychoanalysts every day
to try to sort out their deep, emotional complexes. Colleges from all over the world offer
courses in psychoanalysis and it is still an amazingly popular field of study.
Psychoanalysis has helped millions of people and will provide relief for millions more in
the coming years.