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

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

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

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

Some psychiatrists value the freedom and autonomy of their patients. Others see them merely as objects for control.

What Psychoanalysis Can Do For You

How to find a way out of vicious circles, and a new path forward.
Shutterstock

Language Development

We have been exploring the enigma of language — its power in helping us understand one another, and the mischief caused by misinterpretations.
Amelia Watkins, used with permission

The Educational Surprise of My Life: Community College

My first year of college was substantially different than I had anticipated, in ways both good and bad.

A Psychological Reading of Lolita

Nabokov confronts us with the elegant stories we tell ourselves to excuse our selfishness.

Thomas S. Szasz: One Hundred Years Ahead of His Time

Thomas S. Szasz, M.D., was a psychiatrist who didn't believe in mental illness as a category of disease. A new book captures the essence of his life and ideas.
pixabay open source

Interpreting signs and symbols

Signs and symbols expressed by the patient’s unconscious in dreams may enable health care professionals to identify the pernicious onset of delirium.

Death and the Risk-taker

By George Michelsen Foy on August 14, 2017 in Shut Up and Listen!
Philosopher Anne Dufourmantelle, who criticized the safe life, is killed saving children from drowning

There Is No Real Therapy Without Assessment

Therapy is ongoing assessment and assessment is ongoing case formulation.

What is the Fascination With the Upcoming Solar Eclipse?

By Lori Russell-Chapin Ph.D. on August 13, 2017 in Brain Waves
How might this solar eclipse help us in the understanding of ourselves and our shadow?

Diluting the Gold of Analysis

Not all psychotherapies are created equal.
Alones/Shutterstock

The Psychoanalytic Mind: Alive and Well

By Paul Siegel Ph.D. on August 10, 2017 in Freud Lives
Freud may be dead, but science is giving his ideas new life.

Your Memories Make You Who You Are

Don't worry if can't remember the details of your first kiss that well. Your unconscious does it for you.

A White Man and a Black Woman Talk About Race

Do you find yourself avoiding conversations about race for fear of saying the wrong thing? Follow one man's example of how to do the race conversation right.

The History and Psychology of the Orgy

By Neel Burton M.D. on July 29, 2017 in Hide and Seek
Orgies gave people a much-needed break.

The Political Uses of Psychiatric Labels

The "Goldwater Rule" and the psychiatrization of sociopolitical conflict.

Psychiatric Diagnostic Labels: What Do They Mean?

Why is diagnosing Trump such a hot news topic, controversial, and confusing?

The Hubris of Neuroscience

Pop neuroscience represents a reductionistic misapplication of knowledge, ignores differences between persons, and negates explanations of human conduct in terms of free will.

Mental Illness as Strategy: Game Theory and Psychiatry

Mental illness--like depression, anxiety, and even schizophrenia--is a game, a strategy, invented by the player (often without acknowledgment) to achieve some end, or "payoff."

Psychoanalysis and Psychiatry: Autonomy vs. Heteronomy

The psychiatrist as state agent, the psychoanalyst as contractual helper.
David Hellerstein

Unlocking the Unconscious: 30 Years Later

Thirty years ago Short Term Dynamic Therapy was poised to take over the world of psychotherapy. What happened?

What Business Are Therapists (Really) In?

Is your therapist doing therapy?

Help! My Antidepressants Aren’t Working

Are your antidepressants not working? Adding talk therapy may help.

Can Talking Cure? And If so, How?

By Noam Shpancer Ph.D. on July 12, 2017 in Insight Therapy
What we talk about when we talk about talk therapy.