Psychoanalysis: The Science of Mental Conflict

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Freud believed that applicants from the humanities and many nonmedical disciplines are as well prepared as physicians for psychoanalytic training. Early in the history of psychoanalysis, prominent analytic organizations tried to limit psychoanalytic training to physicians. Later, after extensive debates and legal battles, psychoanalytic training in most institutes was opened to nonmedical mental health professionals, such as psychologists and clinical social workers.

Currently, access to training by appicants from nonclinical disciplines, such as literary studies and philosophy, is limited. A small number of institutes, citing Freud's belief that training in the humanities provides good preparation for analytic training, admit nonclinical applicants. However, there is an ongoing effort by analysts with prior training in mental health to restrict access to analytic institutes by such applicants, repeating the early monopoly on psychoanalytic training by physicians.

Today psychoanalytic ideas are imbedded in the culture, especially in childcare, education, literary criticism, and in psychiatry, particularly medical and non-medical psychotherapy. Though there is a mainstream of evolved analytic ideas, there are groups who more specifically follow the precepts of one or more of the later theoreticians. Though the most commonly held image of a psychoanalytic session is one in which a single analyst works with a single client, 'group' sessions with two or more clients are not unknown.

Carrying out psychoanalysis in groups can be motivated by economic factors individual analysis is time-consuming and expensive or by the belief that clients may benefit from witnessing the various client-client and analyst-client interactions. In most forms of group-based analysis, the group is initially an artefact created by the analyst selecting the various members; the assumption is that the common relationship to the analyst will lead to the formation of a genuine group situation. Group psychotherapy of 'natural' groups e. Psychoanalysis can be adapted to different cultures, as long as the therapist or counseling understands the client's culture.

For example, Tori and Blimes found that defense mechanisms were valid in a normative sample of 2, Thais. The use of certain defense mechanisms was related to cultural values. For example Thais value calmness and collectiveness because of Buddhist beliefs , so they were low on regressive emotionality. Psychoanalysis also applies because Freud used techniques that allowed him to get the subjective perceptions of his patients. He takes an objective approach by not facing his clients during his talk therapy sessions. He met with his patients' where ever they were, such as when he used free association—where clients would say whatever came to mind without self-censorship.

His treatments had little to no structure for most cultures, especially Asian cultures. Therefore, it is more likely that Freudian constructs will be used in structured therapy Thompson, et al. In addition, Corey postulates that it will be necessary for therapist to help clients develop a cultural identity as well as an ego identity.

Psychoanalytic constructs fit with constructs of other more structured therapies, and Firestone thinks psychotherapy should have more depth and involve both psychodynamic and cogitative-behavioral approaches.

What is Psychoanalysis?

For example, Corey states, that Ellis, the founder of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy REBT would allow his clients to experience depression over a loss, such an emotion would be rational—often people will be irrational deny their feelings. Since Freudian constructs can fit with other psychotherapeutic and counseling approaches, it can also be adapted to a variety of cultures, but it can not be employed in its widest use as Freud and Firestone would advocate Firestone, ; Tori and Blimes ,.

Psychoanalysis: The Science of Mental Conflict - CRC Press Book

Psychoanalytic constructs can be adapted and modified to both age and managed care through the use of play therapy such as art therapy, creative writing, Sand Tray Therapy, storytelling, bibliotherapy, and analytical psychodrama. In the 's, Anna Freud Sigmund Freud's daughter adapted psychoanalysis for children through play. Using toys and games, she was able to enhance relationship with the child - Freud has been criticized for his, objective and disengaged, approach.


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When children play, they often engage in a make believe world where they can express their fears and fantasies, and they do so without censorship, so it resembles very much the technique of free association. Psychoanalytic play therapy allows the child and the counselor to access material in the unconscious, material that was avoided and forgotten.

This material is re-integrated into the conscience, and the counselor is able to work with the child and the family to address the trauma or issue that was forgotten. With adults, the term art therapy is used, instead of play, however they are synonymous. The counselor simply adapts art therapy to the age of the client. With children, a counselor may have a child draw a portrait of his self, and then tell a story about the portrait. The counselor watches for re-occurring themes - regardless of whether it is with art or toys.

With adults, the counselor may work one on one or in a group and have clients do various art activities like painting or clay to express themselves - toys here would not probably not be age appropriate, and children stop pretend play as they transition into adolescence. Bibliocounseling involves selecting stories from books that children can identify with similar issues. Through this story, a child will be more likely to not feel defensive and will work to find alternative solutions to problems.

Storytelling is similar, the counselor may tell a story but not use a name, and instead he may address the child with each new sentence using his name. For example, He may say, "next, Eric, the little boy had dream about a mouse that was not like the other mice Unlike traditional psychoanalysis, play therapy takes much shorter time span; which allow insurance companies to cover it for their clients. Even more, it provides more structure to the process allowing for specific measurable goals.

Psychoanalytic theory will be applied in more preventative ways, such as educating parents on how to best meet the needs of the child and enhance the child's development and growth. Lastly, more advocates may use homework assignments such as journal writing to save time Thompson et al. According to a book, review by Berman the writing cure provides an analysis of research that supports expressive writing as a way to integrate cognitions and work through trauma. People who write about traumatic events experience more self control. Popper argues that it is not scientific because it is not falsifiable.

Exchanges between critics and defenders of psychoanalysis have often been so heated that they have come to be characterized as the Freud Wars. Some defenders of psychoanalysis suggest that its logics and formulations are more akin to those found in the humanities than those proper to the physical and biological sciences, though Freud himself tried to base his clinical formulations on a hypothetical neurophysiology of energy transformations. By the 's, psychoanalytic writers like Roy Schafer and George Klein treated psychoanalysis as two separate theories, one, a theory of energy transformations that lacked empirical validation and the other, an "experience-near" theory of human intentionality that was philosophically independent of the reductionism and determinism of 19th century science as seen in the works of Helmholz and Hobbes.

Reductionism and determinism were recognized as contrary to the clinical methods and goals of psychological liberation. Psychoanalysis as a collection of clinical theories was recast as a theory of interpretation and development with a focus on understanding how the varieties of nonconscious dispositions and actions influence a person's life in the form of transference and resistance. In a closely related argument, the philosopher Paul Ricouer argued that psychoanalysis can be considered a type of textual interpretation or hermeneutics. Like cultural critics and literary scholars, Ricouer contended, psychoanalysts spend their time interpreting the nuances of language- the language of their patients.

Ricouer claimed that psychoanalysis emphasizes the polyvocal or many-voiced qualities of language, focusing on utterances that mean more than one thing. Ricouer classified psychoanalysis as a hermeneutics of suspicion. By this he meant that psychoanalysis searches for deception in language, and thereby destabilizes our usual reliance on clear, obvious meanings.

The philosopher Jacques Derrida took a similar position. Derrida used psychoanalytic theory to question what he called the metaphysics of presence, a body of philosophical theory which assumes that the meaning of utterances can be pinned down and made fully evident. Psychoanalysts have often complained about the significant lack of theoretical agreement among analysts of different schools.

Many authors have attempted to integrate the various theories, with limited success. An important consequence of the wide variety of psychoanalytic theories is that psychoanalysis is difficult to criticize as a whole. Many critics have attempted to offer criticisms of psychoanalysis that were in fact only criticisms of specific ideas present only in one or more theories, rather than in all of psychoanalysis. For example, it is common for critics of psychoanalysis to focus on Freud's ideas, even though only a fraction of contemporary analysts still hold to Freud's major theses.

As the psychoanalytic researcher Drew Westen puts it, "Critics have typically focused on a version of psychoanalytic theory—circa at best—that few contemporary analysts find compelling In so doing, however, they have set the terms of the public debate and have led many analysts, I believe mistakenly, down an indefensible path of trying to defend a 75 to year-old version of a theory and therapy that has changed substantially since Freud laid its foundations at the turn of the century. An early criticism of psychoanalysis was that its theories were based on little quantitative and experimental research, and instead relied almost exclusively on the clinical case study method.

An increasing amount of psychoanalytic research from academic psychologists and psychiatrists who have worked to quantify and measure psychoanalytic concepts has begun to address this criticism. Research on psychodynamic treatment of some populations shows mixed results. Research by analysts such as Bertram Karon and colleagues at Michigan State University had suggested that when trained properly, psychodynamic therapists can be effective with schizophrenic patients.

More recent research casts doubt on these claims. The Schizophrenia Patient Outcomes Research Team PORT report argues in its Recommendaton 22 against the use of psychodynamic therapy in cases of schizophrenia, noting that more trials are necessary to verity its effectiveness. However, it has been noted that the PORT recommendation is based on the opinions of clinicians rather than on empirical data, and empirical data exist that contradict this recommendation. Further, data also suggest that psychoanalysis is not effective and possibly even detrimental in the treatment of sex offenders.

Although the popularity of psychoanalysis was in decline during the 's and early 's, prominent psychoanalytic institutes have experienced an increase in the number of applicants in recent years.


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    History Psychoanalysis was first devised in Vienna in the s by Sigmund Freud, a neurologist interested in finding an effective treatment for patients with neurotic or hysterical symptoms. Theories Psychoanalysis is theoretically diverse. The topographical model The topographical model of the mind was intended to help analysts understand how patients repress wishes, fantasies, and thoughts. The structural model Perhaps the most famous psychoanalytic model of the mind, the structural model divides the mind into the id, ego, and superego. The economic model The economic model of the mind is rarely used today, but is of historical importance.

    The conflict model The conflict model of the mind is designed to help analysts understand specific mental conflicts. The object-relational model The object-relational model of the mind describes the mind as structured by internalized relationships with others. The intersubjective model The most recently developed model listed here, intersubjective model is closely related to the object-relational model. Techniques The basic method of psychoanalysis is the transference and resistance analysis of free association. An open-door review of outcome studies of psychoanalysis can be found here Cost and length Although psychoanalytic treatment used to be expensive, cost today ranges from as low as ten dollars a session with an analytic candidate in training at an institute to over dollars a session with a senior training analyst.

    Training Throughout the history of psychoanalysis, most psychoanalytic organizations have existed outside of the university setting, with a few notable exceptions. Other definitions Psychoanalysis is: A therapeutic technique for the treatment of neurosis.

    Psychoanalysis: The Science of Mental Conflict

    A technique used to train psychoanalysts. A basic requirement of psychoanalytic training is to undergo a successful analysis. A technique of critical observation. The successors and contemporaries of Freud—Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, Wilhelm Reich, Melanie Klein, Wilfred Bion, Jacques Lacan, and many others—have developed Freud's theories and advanced new theories using the basic method of quiet critical observation and study of individual patients and other events. Arlow and Brenner argued that Freud's earlier theory of the conscious, preconscious, and unconscious systems of the mind ought to be abandoned, and the structural model used as the sole psychoanalytic theory of the mind.

    Recent ego psychological authors have taken the approach in a number of directions. Some, such as Charles Brenner , have contended that the structural model should be abandoned and psychoanalysts should focus exclusively on understanding and treating mental conflict. Others, such as Frederic Busch, have argued for an increasingly nuanced and sophisticated concept of the ego.

    Ego psychology is often confused with self psychology , which emphasizes the strength and cohesion of a person's sense of self.

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    Although some ego psychologists write about the self, they usually distinguish the self from the ego. They define the ego as an agency comprised of mental functions, whereas the self is an internal representation of how one sees oneself. In ego psychology, emphasis is placed on understanding the functioning of the ego and its conflicting relations to the id, superego, and reality, rather than on the subjective sense of self.

    The clinical technique most commonly associated with ego psychology is defence analysis. Through clarifying, confronting, and interpreting the typical defence mechanisms a patient uses, ego psychologists hope to help the patient gain control over these mechanisms. Many authors have criticized Hartmann's conception of a conflict-free sphere of ego functioning as both incoherent and inconsistent with Freud's vision of psychoanalysis as a science of mental conflict.

    In Freud's view, the ego itself takes shape as a result of the conflict between the id and the external world. The ego, therefore, is inherently a conflicting formation in the mind. To state, as Hartmann did, that the ego contains a conflict-free sphere may not be consistent with key propositions of Freud's structural theory.

    Some have also accused Hartmann of proposing a conformist psychology in which the ego is considered most healthy when it adjusts to the status quo. Hartmann claimed, however, that his aim was to understand the mutual regulation of the ego and environment rather than to promote adjustment of the ego to the environment.

    Also, Jacques Lacan , a prominent psychoanalyst, had a certain disdain for ego-psychology. He took issue with the movement insofar as his form of psychoanalysis focuses on the unconscious. It also splits the ego and theorizes how one never has a true relation to their ego because it is an illusionary relationship to an ideal image, and is a product of the unconscious itself. Site is being targeted by spambots. Defense analysis The clinical technique most commonly associated with ego psychology is defence analysis.