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 Can We Approach Self-Care Without A Full Sense Of Self?

By Grant H. Brenner M.D. on November 18, 2017 in ExperiMentations
From childhood to our relationship with ourselves, carrying a negative or empty sense of self makes it learning self-love seem like an impossible bootstrap. Yet it can happen...

Is Your Sexuality Harmonious or Obsessive?

By Grant H. Brenner M.D. on November 15, 2017 in ExperiMentations
Research suggests that distinguishing between harmonious and obsessive passion is a useful psychological re-frame and associated with different outcomes.

Analyzing a Long Series of Dreams: A Conference Presentation

A new method of exploring the meaningful patterns in a long series of dreams can shed light on personal relationships, emotional concerns, cultural activities, and spiritual views.

Sexual Assault Is About Power

From Trump to Weinstein: Part 1 of 2-part series on the impact of sexual harassment on mental health.

Why We Might Feel Lonely Around Narcissism

By Grant H. Brenner M.D. on November 13, 2017 in ExperiMentations
Experiencing an unstable sense of self is a challenging experience on many levels. Empathy in narcissism is shaped by sense of self, as researchers are exploring.

The Primal Wound: Do You Have One?

By Darcia Narvaez Ph.D. on November 12, 2017 in Moral Landscapes
Is suffering a necessary part of the human condition? To anticipate doom, fear intimacy, or carry a sense of falseness and meaninglessness? No, say the psychosynthesists.

The Hypocrisy of Antipsychiatry

By on November 09, 2017 in Mental Illness as Metaphor
Coercive psychiatry and antipsychiatry are two sides of the same coin.

Dreams Help Us Connect With Our Inner World

Is Sigmund Freud's "Interpretation of Dreams" still relevant more than a century later?

Mad to Be Normal: A Review of the New R.D. Laing Biopic

By on November 06, 2017 in Mental Illness as Metaphor
A new film depicts the life and times of the revolutionary—and controversial—psychiatrist who shunned neuroleptic drugs in favor of a psychological understanding of schizophrenia.

Tranquilizing Humanity into Oblivion

By on November 01, 2017 in Mental Illness as Metaphor
Modern psychiatry would be wise to heed the warning of Nathan S. Kline, the pioneering psychopharmacologist.

On Teenagers, Helplessness, and Anxiety

By Bruce Poulsen Ph.D. on October 30, 2017 in Reality Play
How does an understanding of normal childhood anxiety help us make sense of anxiety disorders among teenagers?

Psychotherapy in the Trump Era

The forces shaping our politics are also shaping our therapies.

People Don’t Still Lie on a Couch, Do They?

100 years since it was introduced by Freud, the couch still provokes both curiosity and ridicule. But does it work?

We Project Onto Romantic Partners Our Own Desires to Cheat

By Grant H. Brenner M.D. on October 19, 2017 in ExperiMentations
We are often convinced that mistrust of our romantic partners is well-founded. Sometimes it is, but research suggests that suspicion also comes from our own attraction to others.

The Psychology of Romantic Love

By Neel Burton M.D. on October 14, 2017 in Hide and Seek
Could romantic love be little more than an ego defence?

6 Ways to Treat Anxiety and Depression from the Constitution

Identify and include the relevant marginalized parts of the self.

The Great Paradox of Psychiatry

By on October 07, 2017 in Mental Illness as Metaphor
If the treatments for mental illness are better than ever, why is there more mental illness today than ever before? Herein lies the great paradox of psychiatry.

How to Make Psychoanalysis Work Today

By John Munder Ross Ph.D. on October 02, 2017 in The Talking Cure
Psychoanalysis is an anachronism in today’s world—and often ineffective. Instead, patient and doctor must home in on those issues already in play in current reality.

Scaring Away Boyfriends and Men Who Loved Me

They'd fallen for a young woman who appeared to be the most independent, self-sufficient, assertive and self-confident girl they'd ever met. I was all that--but only in public.

On the Myth of the Chemical Imbalance

By on September 28, 2017 in Mental Illness as Metaphor
Why do so many people believe in the chemical imbalance theory?
Stock Photo

Cognition

Infants express their feelings through facial expressions, bodily movements, and vocalizations. Babies can express built-in feelings almost from day one...

The Psychodynamic Brain

By Paul Siegel Ph.D. on September 25, 2017 in Freud Lives
Neuroscience is showing that Freud's view of the brain was prescient.

Theoretical Orientations as Straw Men

By Michael Karson Ph.D., J.D. on September 25, 2017 in Feeling Our Way
The appeal of reviling other therapists' approaches.

Sorry, Your Therapist Can’t Be Your Friend

Your therapist cannot and should not be your friend. Here's why.

How Long Should Psychotherapy Last?

By Stephen Joseph Ph.D. on September 14, 2017 in What Doesn't Kill Us
A good psychotherapist won’t try to push clients to go faster than they can. To do so can feel threatening and, paradoxically, lead a client to become more entrenched.

Revisiting Berne's Theory of Sexual Frigidity

By on September 13, 2017 in Mental Illness as Metaphor
Are you living in a sexless marriage?

Psychodynamic Running

By Molly S. Castelloe Ph.D. on September 13, 2017 in The Me in We
A new running meditation and how it works holistically, engaging both mind and body.

Predicting the Unpredictable: Hurricane Irma Media Coverage

By on September 12, 2017 in Mental Illness as Metaphor
Lessons from Hurricane Irma's terribly inaccurate, and ever-changing forecast.

Orienting the Incoming Class: How I Introduce Myself

By Michael Karson Ph.D., J.D. on September 11, 2017 in Feeling Our Way
Orient trainees by displaying clinical values.

Power, Paternalism, and Psychiatry

By on September 02, 2017 in Mental Illness as Metaphor
Some psychiatrists value the freedom and autonomy of their patients. Others see them merely as objects for control.