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

Suicide as a Form of Homicide

There are as many reasons for killing oneself as there are for killing other people.

9 Indications Your Psychotherapy May Need A Tune-Up

How do I know when my therapy is deadlocked? The following discussion was provoked by feedback we received on a blog entry on the “doctor-patient relationship,” and provides food for thought for both therapists and their patients.

Putting Trump and the GOP on the Couch

The GOP presidential candidates appeal to needs for safety and security through grandiosity and paranoia. Psychologists can help us understand how American Exceptionalism and xenophobia function to counteract feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, isolation, and self-blame, all of which are on the rise. Paranoia and grandiosity are pathological solutions.

Relevant Psychoanalysis: "What Does This Email Mean?"

By Wednesday Martin Ph.D. on September 23, 2015 Stepmonster
More and more, patients bring their iPhones into therapy sessions. And their longing, too. Here's how smart shrinks handle it...

The Analyst and the Author

By Pythia Peay on September 21, 2015 America On The Couch
I was well into my second decade of analysis when I hit a wall in my freelance writing career. It was early 2000, and, gathering my courage, I’d submitted a query to George magazine—with its marriage of politics and celebrity, one of the coolest “glossies” on the newsstands at the time—only to have it politely rejected.

Is Picky Eating a Sign of Mental Illness in Kids?

Certain habits increase the risk for depression, anxiety, and ADHD.

You Aren't Who You Think You Are

The reason why you aren't who you think can improve your life

Psychosexual Stages: Freud’s Theory

By Adrian Furnham Ph.D. on September 05, 2015 A Sideways View
Is Freudian personality theory valid?

5 Reasons This Isn't Your Grandfather's Psychoanalysis

By Kristi Pikiewicz PhD on September 03, 2015 Meaningful You
The image that many people have of psychoanalysis is from the 1950's or even earlier. Times change. And so has psychoanalysis.

Examples of the 4 Things Competent Therapists Do

The problem with principles is that they can lead to rules and checklists instead of empathic understanding.

What Happens When a Narcissist's Love Turns Into Rage

No one like being rejected or left, but for narcissistic individuals, a rejection can become the stimulus for a dangerous over-reaction. If you’ve ever been the target of one of these attacks, you know how frightening it can be. Understanding the cause of your ex’s rage can help both of you cope more reasonably.

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 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 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 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.

4 Ways to Tell If a Therapist Is Competent

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.

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

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

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 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 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

Learning how to navigate the new terrain of social media in a professional manner is integral to the success of a psychotherapy practice.