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

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.

8 Warning Signs Your Lover is a Narcissist

The Mayo Clinic research group defines narcissistic personality disorder as “a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration." How do you know when your romantic partner may be a narcissist? Here are eight telltale signs...

Modern Intellectual History of Cognitive Sciences

By Sean X. Luo M.D., Ph.D. on February 28, 2015 in Hooked on Patterns
Did cognitive science come out of Einstein or Darwin?

Some Things Get Better With Age

By F. Diane Barth L.C.S.W. on February 26, 2015 in Off the Couch
My ninety year old aunt complains that she does not have much energy anymore. She doesn’t like it that she can’t remember what day it is, or the names of new acquaintances. But when it comes to emotional advice, there’s no one better to ask. Research has shown that as we age, not all of our cognitive abilities are on a steady downward path.

The 'Journey' of Psychotherapy

The “Journey” of Psychotherapy: On a voyage with an eating disordered patient. By Hilary Maddux, LCSW

Moving Toward Compassion in the Psychological Sciences

By Steven C. Hayes Ph.D. on February 17, 2015 in Get Out of Your Mind
We practice a kind of hypocrisy in the behavioral health area that’s not only embarrassing but counterproductive.

The Psychology of Dreaming

By Adrian Furnham Ph.D. on February 13, 2015 in A Sideways View
Is the psychology of dreaming a forgotten backwater? There are many claims made about how, when and why to interpret dreams but are they true?

College-Bound Veterans

PTSD is an injury, not a mental illness.

Mission to Meet our Makers: A Review of Prometheus, Part 1

By Kyle D Killian Ph.D. on February 08, 2015 in Intersections
Being human: Michael Fassbender's David grasping our place in the universe.

What Is Mindfulness and How Does It Work?

By Gregg Henriques on February 06, 2015 in Theory of Knowledge
Mindfulness is one of the most important developments in mental health in the past twenty years. Understand what it is and how it works.

Irrelationship's Performer—Human Antidepressants

The song-and-dance routine of the "Performer" is driven by the need to distance himself from his own anxiety and pain by taking care of his primary caregiver (usually a parent). He will often develop into the do-gooder, caretaker, rescuer or hero, but those are roles cultivated from childhood, usually emerging from a distinct relational—or irrelational—pattern.

The Psychology of Torture

By Jay Richards Ph.D. on February 04, 2015 in The Violent Mind
Cognitive behavioral theory got it wrong, but how?

Anne Lamott, Blogging, and Psychotherapy

What do Anne Lamott, blogging, and psychotherapy have in common? Find out here.

Freud's Office: The Birth of Modern Thought

By Jean Kim M.D. on February 03, 2015 in Culture Shrink
Freud's office was the site of a deceptively quiet revolution: Can his ideas still save modern society?

Your Guide to Psychotherapy Options

Psychotherapy is not a 'one size fits all.' Different diagnoses and personality styles may fit better with different therapeutic modalities. This blog is designed to help you better understand some of the most commonly used (and empirically validated) techniques.

"What's He Building in There?"—Anatomy of an Irrelationship

In irrelationship, we believe that we doing all the heavy lifting, either by giving, accepting or accommodating. Sooner than later, this creates smoldering resentment and distress on both sides. This disconnect is the result of each partner’s continuing as adults to play care taking roles that they took on toward their caregivers when they were small children.

James Holmes: A Psychiatric Analysis

Is James Holmes a victim of insanity or a calculating killer?


Language has been described as one of humans' most important evolutionary advances. We will explore language with specific reference to individual development and its relationship to affects and cognition.

Others All Good or All Bad: A Splitting Headache

Ever since they were first described by psychoanalysts, people with borderline personality disorder were presumed to be incapable of seeing both the good and bad in other people simultaneously. While they can indeed act that way, they are actually superb judges of character. They are also thought of as being manipulative, which requires that very ability.

9 Essential Issues Good Therapy Should Address

By Clifford N. Lazarus Ph.D. on January 18, 2015 in Think Well
Despite the fact that all people are unique individuals who will need their therapy tailored to their specific needs, there are some general factors that define good therapy. If you and your therapist are not addressing them, important therapeutic stones may be left unturned thus limiting your therapy's effectiveness.

Putting Feelings Into Words: 3 Ways to Explain What You Feel

By F. Diane Barth L.C.S.W. on January 17, 2015 in Off the Couch
Have you ever had troubles finding the words for what you’re feeling or thinking? Most of us have encountered this difficulty at some time or another. It often happens just when we most need to be able to explain ourselves – when we’re feeling something particularly strongly or in a crisis or just want to communicate a strong feeling.

Bump Start

By Mark D. Griffiths Ph.D. on January 13, 2015 in In Excess
One of the more interesting and somewhat controversial male psychological conditions that have been reported relatively frequently in psychological research literature is Couvade syndrome (sometimes called sympathetic pregnancy) but is not generally recognized as a bona fide medical condition. But what does the psychological literature tell us about this disorder?

Charlie Hebdo and Group Regression

By Molly S. Castelloe Ph.D. on January 12, 2015 in The Me in We
Some culturally-determined psychological elements contributing to the Charlie Hebdo attack.

Does Your Personality Predispose You to the Winter Blues?

With winter in the northern climes comes an increase in the risk of developing Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. Short of a diagnosable disorder, others experience the winter blues. As it turns out, it’s not only the cold or the reduction in daylight but personality may also play a key role.

Meet the Enemy: It Is Us

By Molly S. Castelloe Ph.D. on January 05, 2015 in The Me in We
By owning your aggression you can turn it to good use.

Nuggets from Psychology Today’s “Essential Reads”

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on December 31, 2014 in How To Do Life
From 2014’s PsychologyToday.com "Essential Reads" articles, these are my favorite tips on change, mental health, relationships, parenting, materialism, and aging.

What Is Anger -- Part II

Anger is often overlooked or misunderstood in psychopathology as well as in everyday relationships. In pathology, one sees anger behind a variety of symptoms. Clinical work shows us that fear of anger and loss of control often are behind these symptoms.

Envy-Empathy: Gifts Within Human Neurocircuitry

Malignant envy is wild desire, what in Eastern perspectives is believed to be responsible for suffering. When envy is modulated and matured, it empowers life positive impulses facilitating knowing, emulation, learning, admiration, feelings of gratitude, and empathy, that is, understanding, respect, and compassion for self and others.

Why Do Some Therapists Take Notes In Session?

By Ryan Howes PhD, ABPP on December 24, 2014 in In Therapy
The notepad is as much a part of the lore of therapy as the clock, the couch, and the bottomless box of Kleenex. But is it really necessary?