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

Psychiatry and Frankenstein

Effective psychiatric treatments may serve as unwanted reminders that the human mind is a machine that can be broken and remedied with mechanical fixes

The Psychology of Self-Deception

By Neel Burton M.D. on August 28, 2015 in Hide and Seek
A short, sharp look into some of the most important ego defenses.

Movie Review: "I'll See You In My Dreams"

By Kristi Pikiewicz PhD on August 25, 2015 in Meaningful You
At first glance, Carol Petersen (Blythe Danner) appears to be living the dream. At second glance, it looks like Carol is not so much living a dream as she is sleepwalking through life.

American Masculinity and Drugs

Reading, coffee, waiting, camera: how American men and their relationship with mind-altering substances allegedly changed throughout the last 100 years.

Quantify Here Now

By Bruce Poulsen Ph.D. on August 24, 2015 in Reality Play
In a culture that places a high value on quantitative self-knowledge, wearable devices obscure as much as they reveal. While no one doubts their potential health benefits, they keep us transfixed on some aspects of our experience while hiding others.

Four Things Competent Therapists Do

That’s only 4 things I’m looking for when evaluating in-office individual talk therapy. In my experience, the vast majority of therapists practice none of them.

How to Navigate the Perils of Creative Success

The case for magic, fairies, and gratitude

Longing for Mania

Why do patients with bipolar depression so often go off their meds?

Will Psychoanalysis Evolve with a Changing World?

Psychoanalysis purports to be all about change. But will psychoanalysis keep up with a changing world?

Does Change Come from Within?

The environmental location of causality—change comes from without rather than from within—is awfully convenient for therapists, who happen to find themselves in their patients’ environments.

Affects, Language, and Cognition

For many months, we have been exploring the three pillars of human development: Affects (Feelings), Language, and Cognition. We have tried to make the case that there is a revolution in our understanding of human development. I have suggested that this revolution has tremendous potential for enhancing development.

You Pays Your Money and You Takes Your Choices

By Dan Mager MSW on July 30, 2015 in Some Assembly Required
We can make whatever choices we want or need to—as long as we are willing to accept the consequences of those choices. This equation represents the intersection of awareness, action, and accountability. And, it is applicable to virtually every area of life.

What Really Makes Narcissists Tick?

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.