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Psychoanalysis > Psychotherapy

About the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

[Methods, practice and examples]

Psychoanalytic psychotherapy appeared as an alternative for the classic treatment of neurosis based on electrical shocks or hydrotherapy. Freud invented his method - also called talking cure - starting from the experiences of his friend and collaborator Dr. Breuer with a hysteric patient. In short, Breuer noticed that the hysterical symptoms of the patient remit when she was made to remember and relive, under hypnosis, the traumatic events.

At first, Freud turns as well to hypnosis, which he subsequently gives up for the free associations, a method based on his belief in the psychic determinism.

The psychoanalytic psychotherapy is mainly concerned with the analysis of the unconscious , or more explicitly of the repressed. At the center of this analysis is the dream, which, in Freud's opinion is structured as a symptom. Freud thought that by analyzing dreams we choose the royal road to the unconscious, to the repressed. This aspect remains central in the therapy of neurosis.

Alongside with dreams Freud analyses as well the slips and mistakes. The Freudian slips are systematically dealt with by Freud in his book Psychopathology of Everyday Life, as well as dreams in the famous Interpretation of Dreams. Both books have remained fundamental for understanding the psychoanalytic treatment.

Finally, Freud brings great contributions to the understanding and analysis of the dream symbols. Unlike his colleague, Carl Jung, Freud reduces the significance of the symbols to sexual matters, thus conforming to his opinion on the etiology of neurosis that would be sexual.

The psychoanalytic psychotherapy is completed with the analysis of the transference. In a famous talk with Carl Jung, Freud underlines the importance of the transference in the analytical practice. Jung wrote:

    [Freud] asked me out of the blue: "And what do you think about the transference?" I replied with the deepest conviction that it was the alpha and omega of the analytical method, whereupon he said: "Then you have grasped the main thing". (The Psychology of the Transference, Ark Paperbacks, p. 8.)

The psychoanalytic psychotherapy has as a fundament a representation of the mental apparatus formed of psychic instances, and a vision of its functioning that imposes two basic principles: the reality and the pleasure one. A great accent is set on the repression which explains the occurrence of the neurotic symptom.

What treats psychoanalysis? Neurosis: hysteria, obsessive-phobic neurosis, anxiety, malaise, mild depressions, sexual dysfunction, all type of inhibitions.

What psychoanalysis does not treat: psychoses.

Please note that the psychoanalytic approach of neurosis doesn't appeal to medicines.


Further resources:
Read about the cathartic therapy here.

- > Check our case study section providing examples of psychoanalytic psychotherapy here.

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