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What is Psychoanalysis Therapy | Psychoanalytic Perspective Theory in Psychology


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What is Psychoanalysis Therapy - Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis. 

This page provides valuable information about the life and work of Sigmund Freud. In this article we will discuss What is Psychoanalysis therapy in detail.

Pioneer in Psychoanalysis

Who developed Psychoanalysis - From the 1890s until his death in 1939, the German physician Sigmund Freud developed a method of psychotherapy known as Psychoanalysis. 

The therapy of psychoanalysis was developed by Sigmund Freud. Its also known as Sigmund Freud Psychoanalysis in Psychology, Psychoanalytic Theory.

Psychoanalysis founder Freud's understanding of the mind was largely based on interpretive methods, introspection and clinical observations, and was focused in particular on resolving unconscious conflict, mental distress, and psychopathology. 

A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis

Psychoanalysis in Psychology Freud's theories became very well-known largely. Because they tackled subjects such as sexuality, repression, and the unconscious mind as general aspects of psychological development. 

Clinically, he helped to pioneer the method of free association and a therapeutic interest in dreams.

Freud Psychoanalysis in Psychology had a significant influence on Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, whose analytical psychology became an alternative form of depth psychology. 

Other well-known psychoanalytic thinkers of the mid-twentieth century included Sigmund Freud's daughter psychoanalyst Anna Freud, German-American psychologist Erik Erickson, Austrian-British psychoanalyst Melanie Klein, English psychoanalyst and physician D. W. Winnicott, German psychologist Karen Horney, German-born psychologist and philosopher Erich Fromm, and English psychiatrist John Bowlby. 

Throughout the 20th century, psychoanalysis in psychology therapy evolved into diverse schools of thought, most of which may be known as Neo-Freudian.

Which of the following statements about psychoanalysis is false?

Psychoanalysis in Psychology Theory and Therapy was criticized by psychologists such as B. F. Skinner and Hans Eysenck, and by philosophers including Karl Popper.

Skinner and other behaviorists believed that psychology should be more empirical and efficient than psychoanalysis, although they frequently agreed with Freud in ways that became overlooked as time passed.  

While scholars of the humanities maintained that Freud was not a "scientist at all, but - an interpreter.

Freudian Psychoanalysis in Psychology is not a magic bullet and it is not for everyone.

Psychoanalytic treatment is best suited for people who are interested in understanding themselves and in taking a careful look at how their own thoughts and feelings, some of which may be unconscious, contribute to their difficulties. 

Psychoanalytic treatment can help with:

  • Troubled relationships
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Sexual troubles
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Chronic irritability
  • Post-traumatic stress disorders
  • Unresolved grief
  • Obsessions and compulsions
  • Phobias
  • Psychosomatic conditions
  • Blocked creativity
  • Work and academic inhibitions
  • Self-defeating behavior
  • Attachment disorders

Psychoanalysis Therapy Complete Procedure




1. Free Association Method in Psychoanalysis

Freud adopted the method of the free association during 1892-1898. The method was to replace the use of hypnosis. It relied on Freud's belief in psychic determinism. 

According to that perspective, psychic activity is not subordinated to free choice. All our mind produces an unconscious root; we can reach by means of free association.

The theory of psychic determinism is amply debated upon in Freud's work The Psychopathology of Everyday Life. 

It is in the same place that we find plenty of instances of free association related to various faulty and symptomatic acts (Freudian slips and mistakes), proving that involuntary psychic acts too are determined by specific causes.

We can say that this method is the the golden rule of the psychoanalytic therapy. Free association is a central therapeutic technique of psychoanalysis.

Free Association- How it works.

Lying on a smooth chair (state of relaxation), the patient speaks freely of anything that may cross his/her mind, without searching for some specific subject or topic. The flow of his/her thoughts is free, and followed with no voluntary intervention. 

The important thing is that the critical mind does not intervene to censor spontaneous thoughts. We truly have the drive to censure the products of our thinking, starting from various criteria: moral, ethical, narcissistic, cultural, spiritual. 

The method of free associations demands us to temporarily give up intellectual censorship and freely speak about any thought.

Later analysis of thoughts produced by means of the above-mentioned method reveals certain repetitive topics indicative of psychic complexes of emotional charge. These complexes are unconscious. 

They are autonomously activated by chance verbal associations, and influence conscious psychic life in a frequently dramatic manner. The task of psychoanalysis is to bring such complexes to the surface of conscious mind, and integrate them into the patient's life.

Example of Free Association

Lying on a couch, in dim light and in a peaceful room, the patient produces the following free associations:

I am thinking of the fluffy clouds I seem to see with my very eyes. They are white and pearly. The sky is full of clouds but a few azure patches can still be seen here and there. Clouds keep changing their shapes. They are fluid because they are condensed water particles.

Also I am thinking I may have an obsession with this water. The doctor has told me I am dehydrated; there's not enough water in my body. He suggested I should drink 2-3 liters of water every day.

Similarly I thought there is a connection between my need to add salt to my food and thirst. My body has found itself a pretext, salty food, to make me drink more water. I have a lot of thoughts about the manifestations of my body, which seem logical and aim at inner balance. 

Everybody has in fact got an inner physician in oneself. If you allow yourself to lie at the will of your free inclinations, with no assumptions whatsoever, you will have the intuition of making things that may surprise you, nevertheless useful to your body and securing your health and high spirits. 

I read somewhere that one can be one's, own doctor - Everybody can be one's, own doctor.

Free Association - Relational Psychoanalysis

Interpretation - We put a stop here to the flow of our patient's associations. We may notice these are indirectly related to the relationship with her therapist. Her associations related to the spontaneous medicine of her body lead to the idea that no physician is in fact necessary.

The patient thinks the psychoanalyst has in fact no contribution to her well being, that she could very well do without one.

We must admit the series of free associations produced by the patient is somehow related to her present circumstances, including the recent reality, her psychoanalytic therapy. 

The novelty of the therapy, the relationship with the psychoanalyst automatically induces thoughts, remarks, more or less recent memories.

The fact that, during her therapy, the patient alludes to a doctor, who had in fact done nothing to help her, is no mere chance. 

This memory can be related to the present circumstance and it may be translated in the patient's skepticism concerning the utility of this analytic therapy.

Nevertheless, this skepticism has an even older history, bringing to the fore the patient's relationship with her mother, when still a child, and dependent on her parent's support.


Freud had used the method of free association in his self-analysis, in dream interpretation. In his Studies on Hysteria (1895), the emphasis increasingly lay on the patient's spontaneous expression.

Freud remembers Emmy Von M., his patient who, on his urge to find the root of a certain symptom had given the following answer: 

He should not keep asking about the origin of this or the other, but allow her to talk to him about anything that crosses her mind. 

Psychoanalysis in Psychology Freud also remarked that: 

"Her accounts are not as unintentional as they seem; rather, they quite closely reproduce her memories, and new impressions, since our latest meeting and often, quite unexpectedly, spread from the pathogenic reminiscences she spontaneously discharges herself through words.

2. Freud Interpretation of Dream Analysis

Psychoanalysis Dream Analysis

Sigmund Freud clearly asserts that the theory of dreams. Its occupies a special place in the history of psychoanalysis. 

Its marks a turning-point analysis, took the step from being a psycho-therapeutic procedure to being a depth-psychology". 

The theory of dreams stands out as a unique aspect of psychoanalytic science, unlike anything else in our understanding.

It represents a new frontier, distinct from popular beliefs and mysticism, reclaimed through psychoanalytic study.

In the realm of our knowledge, there's no equivalent to the profound insight provided by the theory of dreams in psychoanalysis.

Freud's Dream Analysis in psychology helps uncover the secrets of neurotic disorders like hysteria. It also leads the way to understanding the unconscious mind.



Freud's phrase: "The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious" has become famous.

The first great dream interpreted by Freud that leads him to his great discoveries were materialized in 1895. It is the famous dream of Irma's injection, which Freud almost thoroughly analyzed and published in his grandiose work The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).

The dream was approached in a manner, which was to become specific for the practitioners of psychoanalysis in psychology, by means of the dreamer's associations.

Dream Analysis Freud (details are provided in the quoted book) reveals Freud's feelings of guilt towards Irma, one of his young patients, whose treatment had not yielded the expected results. 

Freud defends himself from these negative feelings in his dream, blaming his very patient who, apparently, were not a submissive and compliant patient, or Dr. Otto, one of his colleagues, guilty of a careless medical intervention (an injection with an infected syringe).

After analyzing his dream, most coherent as it proved, Freud justly declared that dreams are not meaningless, they are not absurd; they do not imply that one portion of our store of ideas is asleep while another the portion is beginning to wake. 

On the contrary, they are psychical phenomena of complete validity - fulfillment of wishes.

Dreams, therefore, require integration into the range of intelligible waking mental acts; "they are constructed by a highly complicated activity of the mind. (Chapter "A Dream is the Fulfillment of a Wish".)

This assertion, in fact, expresses a great opening towards the activity of abysmal psyche, and mostly the belief in psychic determinism, in the idea that all psychic deeds have their own meaning and connect today activities, even in a somewhat less visible manner.

Contrary to the general opinion of his time's scientific world, Freud thinks dreams are a coherent psychic activity, that can be analyzed in depth.

Nevertheless, the comprehensive definition of the dream includes other discoveries too, the true sign of Freudian approach original character: "a dream is a (disguised) fulfillment of a (suppressed or repressed) wish". (Chapter Distortion in Dreams.)

This definition emphasizes two key aspects of the theory of dreams:

Dreams are a disguised fulfillment of a wish, and

This is a repressed wish.

We can, therefore, conclude that disguise is caused by repression. 

That is the reason why all dream researchers before Freud were not able to discover these facts: they only analyzed the manifest content of the dream, that is its outer shape at wakening time, its facade, not caring about latent thoughts giving rise to its becoming, thoughts we reach by means of the method of associations devised by Freud.

Psychoanalysis in Psychology Freud goes even further to analyze the nature of distortion by the dream, partially the work of dream-censorship and partly of dream-work, a complex process by means of which latent thoughts are turned into dreams as such.

Freud's analysis includes dream-work and the end of his the book also provides us his opinions concerning the psychology of the dream process: primary and secondary processes, repression, unconscious, etc.

That is why The Interpretation of Dreams represents the major work on dreams and unconscious life, not equaled so far! It remains an essential stage in the study of psychoanalysis! 

In spite of the importance of dream-analysis for the discovery of abysmal psyche functioning as well as for therapy as such, this crucial field of psychoanalysis in psychology has no more concerned psychoanalysts after Freud's research.


It is the securest foundation of psychoanalysis in psychology and the field in which every worker must acquire his convictions and seek his training.

3. Analysis of Resistance

Analysis of Resistance in Psychoanalytic Therapy

It became evident that the work of uncovering what had been photogenically forgotten had to struggle against a constant and very intense resistance. 



The critical objections which the patient raised in order to avoid communicating the ideas which occurred to him, and against which the fundamental rule of psychoanalysis was directed, had themselves already been manifestations of this resistance.

A consideration of the phenomena of resistance led to one of the corner-stones of the psychoanalytic theory of the neuroses - the theory of repression. 

It was plausible to suppose that the same forces which were now struggling against the pathogenic material being made conscious had at an earlier times made the same efforts with success. (Sigmund Freud, An Outline of Psychoanalysis, 1940.)

Five Kinds of Resistances

Further investigation of the subject shows that the analyst has to combat no less than five kinds of resistance, emanating from three directions - the ego, the id, and the super-ego. The ego is the source of three of these, each differing in its dynamic nature.

The first of these three ego-resistances is the repression resistance, which we have already discussed above and about which there is least new to be added. 

Next, there is the transference resistance, which is of the same nature but which has different and much clearer effects in analysis, since it succeeds in establishing a relation to the analytic situation or the analyst himself and thus re-animating repression which should only have been recollected.

The third resistance, though also an ego-resistance, is of quite a different nature. It proceeds from the gain from illness and is based upon an assimilation of the symptom into the ego. It represents an unwillingness to renounce any satisfaction or relief that has been obtained. 

The fourth variety, arising from the id, is the resistance which, as we have just seen, necessitates "working-through". The fifth, coming from the super-ego and the last to be discovered, is also the most obscure though not always the least powerful one. 

It seems to originate from the sense of guilt or the need for punishment; and it opposes every move towards success, including, therefore, the patient's own recovery through analysis. 

(Sigmund Freud: Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety, 1926).

4. Transference

What is Transference in Psychology - "It is the feelings of the analyst toward the patient."

The patient is not satisfied with regarding the analyst in the light of reality as a helper and adviser who, moreover, is remunerated for the trouble he takes and who would himself be content with some such role as that of a guide on a difficult mountain climb. 

On the contrary, the patient sees in him the return, the reincarnation, of some important figure out of his childhood or past, and consequently transfers on to him feelings and reactions which undoubtedly applied to this prototype. 

This fact of transference soon proves to be a factor of undreamt-of importance, on the one hand, an instrument of irreplaceable value and on the other hand a source of serious dangers. 

This B is ambivalent: it comprises positive (affectionate) as well as negative (hostile) attitudes towards the analyst, who as a rule is put in the place of one or other of the patient's parents, his father, or mother. (Sigmund Freud, An Outline of Psychoanalysis - 1940.) 


Universality of Transference

An analysis without transference is an impossibility. It must not be supposed, however, that transference is created by analysis and does not occur apart from it. 

Transference is merely uncovered and isolated by analysis. It is a universal phenomenon of the human mind, it decides the success of all medical influence, and in fact dominates the whole of each person's relations to his human environment. 

We can easily recognize it as the same dynamic factor which the hypnotists have named 'suggestibility', which is the agent of hypnotic rapport and whose incalculable behavior led to difficulties with the cathartic a method as well.  

(Sigmund Freud, An Autobiographical Study - 1925)

Absence of Transference

Without emotional connection, influencing the patient psychologically is impossible. In conditions like dementia praecox, where emotion transfer is negative, impacting the patient psychologically diminishes.

When there's no inclination for emotional transfer, especially in dementia praecox, using psychological means to influence the patient is nonexistent.

(Sigmund Freud, An Autobiographical Study - 1925)


International Psychoanalysis Associations

What are international psychoanalysis associations?

International Psychoanalytic Associations are organizations that bring together professionals and practitioners in the field of psychoanalysis from various countries. 

These associations serve as platforms for collaboration, exchange of ideas, and the advancement of psychoanalytic knowledge on a global scale. 

They often organize conferences, training programs, and research initiatives to promote the understanding and application of psychoanalytic principles across diverse cultural contexts.

International Associations

  • International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA) 
  • American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA) 
  • European Psychoanalytical Federation (EPF) 
  • British Psychoanalytical Society (BPAS).

Membership in these associations provides individuals with opportunities for networking, continuing education, and staying updated on the latest developments in the field of psychoanalysis.


Behavior Therapy and Psychoanalysis

How is behavior therapy different than psychoanalysis?

Behavior therapy and psychoanalysis differ in their approaches to addressing psychological issues.  

Behavior therapy focuses on observable behaviors. its aim is to modify and improve them through practical strategies. It emphasizes the "here and now," concentrating on the present instead of  past experiences. 

In contrast, psychoanalysis delves into the unconscious mind, exploring deeper layers of thoughts and emotions. It seeks to uncover and understand the root causes of issues, often through open-ended discussions. 

While behavior therapy is action-oriented and goal-focused, psychoanalysis tends to be more introspective and insight-driven.




Questions for Psychoanalysis Therapy (FAQs)

What type of therapy is psychoanalysis? | Psychoanalysis is what type of therapy?

Psychoanalysis is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on uncovering and addressing unconscious conflicts and desires.

What is psychoanalysis therapy used for?

Psychoanalysis therapy is used to delve into the underlying causes of mental and emotional distress, promoting self-awareness and facilitating long-term psychological change.

Who design psychoanalysis therapy technique? 

Psychoanalysis was a therapy technique designed by Sigmund Freud.

Is psychoanalysis a non directive therapy?

No, psychoanalysis is generally considered a directive therapy.

How long does traditional psychoanalysis typically take | how long does psychoanalysis typically take?

Traditional psychoanalysis typically takes several years, often ranging from three to five times per week. The duration can vary based on individual needs and the specific approach of the psychoanalyst.

Complete Introduction and History of Psychoanalysis according to Sigmund Freud

Popular Institute of Psychoanalysis | Psychoanalysis near me

Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis

Manhattan Institute of Psychoanalysis


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