What Is Psychoanalysis?

It began, of course, with Freud. Psychoanalysis refers both to a theory of how the mind works and a treatment modality. 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 neuroscientific findings about brain processes.

Recent posts on Psychoanalysis

How to Make Political Conversations More Productive

Being able to talk together constructively is a small but mighty consolation in these troubling times.

My Therapist Mother Treats Me Like A Patient

How To Survive A Therapist Parent

The Origins of Our Emotional Life: Our Earliest Feelings

Our earliest nine inborn feelings—“primary affects”—are key to understanding human development and emotional life. What are they? How do they work?

Three Key Father Parenting Jobs, Analytically Speaking

By Karen L Smith MSS, LCSW on June 21, 2016 in Full Living
Psychoanalytic theory has a lot to say about the role of mothers in early infant psychological development. Less familiar is the roles fathers play in their childrens' developement

America's Founding Fathers Meet the Father of Psychoanalysis

By Rebecca Coffey on June 21, 2016 in The Bejeezus Out of Me
"Hamilton" just swept the Tonys. What did America's founding fathers know that Freud knew, and that we should all celebrate about free speech ... and desire?

Exploring Feelings

We are born with specific innate feelings, which combine with each other and life experiences to form our complex emotional world.

Turning the Microscope on Feelings

Why do we tend to overlook the importance of feelings in understanding the behavior of human beings?
Wikimedia commons, labeled for reuse

Why Every Psychotherapist Needs to Understand Sociology

Psychology on its own presents too skewed of a perspective to truly understand the entirety of human behavior. It must be counterbalanced by other disciplines, such as sociology.

On Hyper-Sanity

By Neel Burton M.D. on June 11, 2016 in Hide and Seek
Standing out is the price we pay for being outstanding.

Trump, Sanders and the Longing for Authenticity

We are so used to the phony kabuki dance of politicians and are so estranged from each other, that we seek authenticity & see it in Trump's demagoguery and even Sanders' directness
Flickr/labeled for reuse

Are You Aware of Your Therapist's Biases? You Should Be

Many people seeking psychotherapy for their sexuality struggles are looking for an impartial expert, but all therapists are still influenced by their own personal biases.

One Size Does Not Fit All for Depression, Anxiety, or Cancer

Rules are great as long as we never forget they are heuristics; only a few are laws of nature.

Why Is Mental Health So Difficult to Define?

By Christopher Lane Ph.D. on June 05, 2016 in Side Effects
A stress on anticipated harmony and positivity is part of the problem.

Why Politics Are So Hard: A Psychoanalyst’s Perspective

Fear of survival and fear of loss are powerful human motivators.

Depth Psychology of Art

The transformative powers of artistic expression are found in diving into the depths as well as the reflections of its surfaces.

How Can You Bear to Listen?

By Nick Luxmoore on May 12, 2016 in Young People Up Close
Sometimes we simply have to bear witness to the effects of other people's cruelty and remember our own capacity to be cruel.

The Least You Need to Know

You can’t know everything about anything, and the desire to know everything produces a sense of inadequacy.

How Can Your Relationship Survive True Intimacy?

What we regard as the transience of love is really risk management. Love can endure, if only we become aware of our self-destructive efforts to protect ourselves from its risks.

Choose Your Actions, Not Your Feelings

Blaming ourselves (and others) for emotions isn't fair.

Psychoanalytic Mother Lovers: 3 Theories

By Karen L Smith MSS, LCSW on May 07, 2016 in Full Living
Psychoanalytic interest is predicated on a belief that psychic, emotional, mental development evolves in the petri dish that is the mother/infant relationship.

Attending to the Unconscious in a Psychotherapy Session

By Karen L Smith MSS, LCSW on May 01, 2016 in Full Living
Lots of folks can offer counsel to our clients. Our job is to help them access clues from their unconscious about the turmoils of their soul.

I’m Not “That Kind” of Psychologist

The term “psychologist” may be one of the most-often confused names of any profession. Here’s why. Along with some suggested alternatives.
Shoba Sreenivasan and Linda Weinberger/Holy Moly Press

5 Ways to Rid Yourself of Junk Emotions

If we thought about our emotions as products we consume, just as we do food, how would this change our life and our health?

Psychoanalysis and CBT Go to Couples Therapy

What if psychoanalysis and CBT went to couples therapy to resolve their never-ending war? This comedic one act explores what that might be like.

Therapeutic Euphemism: Niceness Isn't Always Kind

By Lawrence D. Blum M.D. on April 24, 2016 in Beyond Freud
The use of euphemistic language in psychotherapy, by either the patient or the therapist, can be a therapeutic obstacle, but understanding this usage provides opportunity.

The Case Against Viktor Frankl

By Timothy Pytell Ph.D. on April 14, 2016 in On Authoritarian Therapy
Controversy has trailed the psychologist ever since his best-selling book popularized logotherapy worldwide.

Putting on the Brakes as You Move Ahead

How to "put on the breaks" and gently pace treatment when a client has rekindled emotions from a previous trauma

The Vulnerability Revolution

If we want to develop security, peace of mind, worthiness and meaning in life, we would do well to join the vulnerability revolution.

Passive Frame Theory: a New Synthesis

By Ezequiel Morsella Ph.D. on April 08, 2016 in Consciousness and the Brain
A new theory about consciousness, based on integrating a handful of theories

How Secular Spirituality Inspires Effective Psychotherapy

People of incompatible faiths have reported profound spiritual experiences—secular meditation distills what is essential. Can we extract what is necessary from psychotherapy?