Psychoanalysis was first found by Sigmund Freud. He believed that human beings can be healed by making their unconscious motivations and thoughts conscious, and thus making them gain an “insight”. The main objective of psychoanalytic therapy is to release subjugated experiences and emotions, making the unconscious conscious. This technique is used to treat such psychological problems as anxiety disorders and depression. Only through catharsis, otherwise known as healing experience, can an individual get help and be subsequently cured (The Institute of Psychoanalysis, 2013).
Psychologists view psychological troubles as the ones that have roots in the unconscious mind. Manifest symptoms of such troubles are caused by disguised disturbances, and common causes may include repressed trauma and/or unresolved issues during development and. The treatment of psychological problems majorly involves bringing the repressed conflict to consciousness, where a patient is able to deal with it. Freudian psychoanalysis dealt greatly with early childhood experiences and repressed sexual fantasies, but the modern model focuses more on the idea of conflict. This conflict, to be more specific, is that between a person’s moral code and the body’s needs. Generally, all human beings have moral codes that in a way determine how wrong or right a particular act is (New York University, 2014).
In his personality theory, Freud categorized the structure of the human mind into three parts. One of them is the "Id", which he termed as the first structure possessed by infants at birth. He had a belief that human beings are born with some energy, which he referred to as "libido," containing the reflexes and instincts that drive the Id. As the infant begins to interact with the environment, a new structure, which he termed as "Ego," develops. Its functions is to recognize that the given needs lead to guilt and punishment. As a result, the Ego represses those instincts and this leads to the formation of "the unconscious”. As time progresses, the child commences internalization of societal norms and values, prompting the formation of a new structure that Freud referred to as "Superego”. This structure makes guilt possible and standardizes gratification types that an individual would solicit (Rana, 1997).
In psychoanalytic therapy, a patient meets the psychoanalyst when all possible defenses have failed and anxiety has appeared. This shifts the focus of psychoanalytic therapy to the unconscious part of the human brain. It is aimed at uncovering the unconscious motivations that function to regulate feelings, behavior and attitudes together with providing increased control for the patient. Psychoanalysts use numerous techniques, trying to penetrate the patient’s unconscious part of the mind. These include free association, resistance, and transference amongst others. Via "free association", patients are pushed to reveal all thoughts, feelings or images that come into their mind. All this time the analyst is seated behind or beside the patient. In most cases, "resistance" is bound to occur. This means that the patient may be unable to remember past traumatic events. In such a case, the analyst is tasked with overcoming resistance.
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In addition to resistance, another idea closely correlated with psychoanalysis and linked to unconscious mind processes is "transference”. This phenomenon occurs when a patient acts or reveals a feeling towards the psychoanalyst the same way as he/she felt or behaved towards an important figure from the past. Inasmuch as Freud believed transference posed a difficulty in therapy, he eventually learned that transference was universal occurring inside or outside the session of therapy. It is only via transference that the core characteristics of the patient are simulated. This is very important in that the analyst can now interpret, clarify, work through, confront and rectify the transference. Actually, this is the pillar of psychoanalysis. In addition to the above, analysis of dreams and slips of the tongue are among other techniques used to highlight unconscious motivations (American Psychoanalytic Organization, 2010).
Psychoanalysis has met numerous criticisms, both positive and negative, from every angle imaginable to man. Positively, it has been strongly equally defended and has therefore made progress despite the challenges. The two most common criticisms psychoanalysis has encountered were posed by those without a deep knowledge and even professionals. One of them is the fact that the theory is so simple that it cannot be employed to explain things as complex as a human mind. Another one is the fact that Sigmund Freud connected all the psychological problems with sex, and therefore overemphasized it.
In my opinion, these criticisms are mostly due to misreading, or wrong interpretation; therefore, people are missing the intended point. The model presented by Freud is just a model like any other. Still, it is very effective in simplifying complex matter to a point where it can be analyzed. When modelling a given thing, it is a rather difficult task to know when over-simplification has been done, but all in all Freud's theory and models go a long way in making us understand persons and have been very successful when used in treatment.
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