What is Psychoanalysis?

It all began with Freud. Psychoanalysis is both a theory of how the mind works and a treatment. In recent years, both have yielded to more mainstream, research-driven approaches, but psychoanalysis is still a thriving field.

Belief in the primacy of the unconscious fantasy, sexual desires (libido, penis envy, Oedipal complex), and dreams has wavered. But Freud also identified such basic mental maneuvers as transference, projection, and defensiveness—and demonstrated how they distort our functioning. As a treatment based on extended self-exploration, psychoanalysis has evolved beyond the silent-shrink stereotype.

Neuropsychoanalysis is an up-and-coming subfield that aims to wed the insights of Freudian psychology and its emphasis on subjective experience with neuroscience findings about brain processes.



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