Psychoanalysis is the revelation of unconscious relations, in a systematic way through an associative process. The fundamental subject matter of psychoanalysis is the unconscious patterns of life revealed through the analysand's (the patient's) free associations. The analyst's goal is to help liberate the analysand from unexamined or unconscious barriers of transference and resistance, that is, past patterns of relatedness that are no longer serviceable or that inhibit freedom.
Psychoanalysis was first devised in Vienna in the 1890s by Sigmund Freud, a doctor interested in finding an effective treatment for patients with neurotic or hystericalsymptoms. As a result of talking with these patients Freud came to believe that their problems stemmed from culturally unacceptable, thus repressed and unconscious desires and fantasies of a sexual nature. Since Freud's day psychoanalysis has developed in many ways, and there are various different schools as well.
The basic method of psychoanalysis is the transference and resistance analysis of free association. The patient, in a relaxed posture, is directed to say whatever comes to mind. Dreams, hopes, wishes, and fantasies are of interest, as are recollections of early family life. Generally the analyst simply listens, making comments only when, in his or her professional judgment, an opportunity for insight on the part of the patient arises. In listening, the analyst attempts to maintain an attitude of empathic neutrality , a nonjudgmental stance designed to create a safe environment. The analyst asks that the analysand speak with utter honesty about whatever comes to awareness while interpreting the patterns and inhibitions that appear in the patient's speech and other behavior.
Although psychoanalytic techniques have been used in a few cases to successfully treat psychosis (with great effort and major sacrifice on the part of the analyst), psychoanalysis is generally thought by analysts to be useful as a method in cases of neurosis and with character or personality problems. Psychoanalysis is most useful in dealing with ingrained problems of intimacy and relationship and for those problems in which established patterns of life are problematic. As a therapeutic treatment, psychoanalysis generally takes three to five meetings a week and requires the amount of time for natural or normal maturational change (three to seven years).
A therapeutic technique for the treatment of neurosis.
A technique used to train psychoanalysts. A basic requirement of psychoanalytic training is to undergo a successful analysis.