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

What Narcissists REALLY Want, and Can Never Get

Among other things, narcissists typically come across as arrogant, manipulative, entitled, and woefully lacking in empathy. But if these defining features are understood at a deeper level—as powerful psychological defenses to protect them from experiencing a truly frightening vulnerability—a quite different picture of them emerges. . . .

Psych Write: Psychology Can Make Sense and Be Fun to Read!

Authors trying to write about psychology for general audiences may err by writing the same way they would write journal articles, or they may err by writing too casually. These tips can help students, psych pros, journalists, bloggers, and water cooler conversationalists achieve the right balance while clearly talking about psychology. Jargon is good. Really, it is.

Deals, Divorce, Direction: Off-Label Uses for Psychoanalysis

By Wednesday Martin Ph.D. on July 16, 2015 in Stepmonster
The future of psychoanalysis and talk therapy might look like this....

What I Learned From 2,000 Hours Of Freudian Psychoanalysis

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on July 06, 2015 in Ambigamy
Everything I learned from long psychoanalysis, distilled to nine bullet points. Can you learn it just by reading the list? Probably not but you may be learning it anyway.

Beyond the Toddler Years

We are continuing our exploration of the three pillars of human development--Affects (Feelings), Language, and Cognition. This month we wrap up the section of Language by examining the link between feelings and words, a process we call translation.

When to Sue Your Psychiatrist for Malpractice

By Ruth Lee Johnson J.D. on June 24, 2015 in So Sue Me
Many cases of psychiatric malpractice are never reported because the victims are already emotionally unstable. What exactly does it mean for a psychiatrist to commit malpractice?

Social Media in a Successful Psychotherapy Practice

By Kristi Pikiewicz PhD on June 24, 2015 in Meaningful You
Learning how to navigate the new terrain of social media in a professional manner is integral to the success of a psychotherapy practice.

Francis Underwood: Classic Sociopath?

An analysis of Francis Underwood from House of Cards.

Can Psychoanalysis Make You Smarter?

By Lawrence D. Blum M.D. on May 31, 2015 in Beyond Freud
No therapy claims to make people smarter, but I wouldn’t be surprised if sometimes psychoanalysis does just that. Psychoanalytic therapies are those treatments in which the therapist’s job is to help people face what they have repressed and what they don’t want to know. They can help clear up blocks to learning.

The Dream of Reason

The story of reason in modern times

5 Tweaks to CBT

Psychotherapy depends on clients messing up the therapy like they mess up their other relationships.

Psychoanalysis Is a History of Storytelling

Psychoanalysis is part of the history of storytelling.

We Don't Repress Painful Childhood Memories

By Temma Ehrenfeld on April 22, 2015 in Open Gently
Most people remember incidents of sexual abuse as children though they may not have understood them.

If the Earth Spoke, Would We Listen?

By Pythia Peay on April 21, 2015 in America On The Couch
It has often seemed to me that the only way humankind will change in time to avert its headlong course toward environmental destruction will be through the emergence of a new myth. Gary S. Bobroff, a Jungian-oriented psychologist, has devoted his life to studying the emergence of just such a history-changing myth: the emergence of . . .the phenomenon of crop circles.

Analyzing Analysts

In Shrinks, Jeffrey Lieberman reviews psychiatry's "tumultuous history," and its current emphasis on the medical treatment of mental illnesses. He maintains that psychiatry fares best when it avoids the extremes of reductionist neurobiology and the psychodynamic element in existential disease. That said, Shrinks does not address important questions about talk therapy.

Remembering the Holocaust: A Psychoanalytic Moment

By Claudia M Gold M.D. on April 16, 2015 in Child in Mind
Much has been written about the Holocaust and intergenerational transmission of trauma. This clinical vignette offers insight in to the workings of the unconscious and how the process of analysis can bring these issues to light.

Treatments Available to Long Term Abduction Victims

A variety of therapeutic techniques that focus on empowerment and reconnecting with family can help abduction victims heal.

Expanding the Self

We should reciprocate the gift of our own lives..... To be focused narrowly - worrying excessively about our personal skills and accomplishments and about the public's regards of these - is to remain forever a child.

What Constitutes Psychological Health?

By Gregg Henriques on April 03, 2015 in Theory of Knowledge
Psychological health is often a vague notion that is characterized in terms of the absence of psychopathology. This blog briefly reviews some frames for thinking explicitly about what constitutes psychological health.

The Ordinary Hero's Journey: Part I

You may be wondering why a psychoanalyst is writing about the hero’s journey—isn’t that the domain of Joseph Campbell, the stuff of mythology, religion, literature, and History channel documentaries? Well, the reason is simple.

Language

Language represents a huge developmental leap. Think of all the things we can accomplish with our words and language. We can enhance relationships with our children. We can share feelings and ideas.

Living Comfortably with Hypocrisy and Negative Evidence

By Warren W Tryon Ph.D. on March 22, 2015 in The Missing Link
How do people live comfortably with hypocrisy and negative evidence?

Book Review: Wisdom from the Couch

By Ryan Howes PhD, ABPP on March 22, 2015 in In Therapy
Dr. Jennifer Kunst shares the warmer, friendlier side of Kleinian psychology in this interview and book review.

Wresting Meaning from Loss

By Steven Mintz Ph.D. on March 21, 2015 in The Prime of Life
Coping with loss -- then and now.

The Therapy Relationship in Psychodynamic Therapy versus CBT

Some therapists have no idea what a therapeutic relationship means

Reflections on Therapeutic Mastery, Part 1

Reflections on therapeutic mastery from an existential-humanistic point of view.

Growing Up Without Therapy

By Lawrence D. Blum M.D. on March 07, 2015 in Beyond Freud
Now and then I have met someone who seems to have grown up, without therapy, into a relatively balanced, contented person, little encumbered by internal conflicts. As a psychoanalyst and psychiatrist, I continue to wonder how to account for this. Emotional maturity is difficult to accomplish on one's own.

How to Parent

By Steven Mintz Ph.D. on March 06, 2015 in The Prime of Life
Parenting, then and now.

Carl Rogers' Person-Centered Approach

Is non-directive therapy the same as client-centered therapy?

Meaning is Where the Action Is

Whether a therapist’s expression of emotional understanding will produce therapeutic or counter-therapeutic effects will depend on the emotional meanings that such expressions have for the patient.