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History Of Psychoanalysis Essay, Research Paper

The history of the major discoveries in psychoanalysis is largely interwoven with the life

and professional career of a single man, Sigmund Freud.

The book Studies on Hysteria actually marks the beginning of psychoanalysis, although

the term was not used by Freud until a year later (1896). Prior to this time, he spoke of ?Breuer?s

cathartic method,? and occasionally of ?psychical analysis.? By 1896, Freud had made some

notable changes in the original technique.

For one thing, he had given up the use of hypnosis. He had found that some patients

could not by hypnotized readily, and the results at other times had been disappointing. Secondly,

he had observed that, while hypnosis suspended the patient?s resistance to recalling painful

feelings and memories, the gains were only temporary. Thirdly, he had a temperamental distaste

for the magical connotations that always surrounded the hypnotic state.

Instead he modified the technique, asking the patients simply to report as faithfully and

unreservedly as possible what occurred to them while in his presence. To keep distractions to a

minimum and to insure the greatest possible relaxation, he asked the patient to recline on a

couch, sitting behind him, out of his field of vision. He had also noted that when the patients

diligently followed what came to be known as ?the fundamental rule,? their associations

regularly began to turn to personal and troublesome matters, ultimately leading to the core of

their neurotic difficulties. The new method of free association (although the associations were

not ?free? in the usual sense) was as simple as it was ingenious. The term psychoanalysis as a

method treatment is inseparable from the technique of free association.

Psychoanalysis, however, has at least two additional meanings, which soon came to the

fore. The first grew out of the treatment of hysteria, and to this date, psychoanalysis is identified

as a specific and specialized form of psychotherapy.

The second meaning, while related to the first, is nevertheless a different one.

Psychoanalysis, in this sense, is a method for investigating the working of the human mind, and

as such constitutes a remarkable breakthrough in psychological research. Here for the first time

was a technique for gaining access to layers of the mind which had hitherto been hidden from

direct observations, and which provided highly revealing insights into the origins of the human

personality as well as the causes of neurotic conflicts. Thus psychoanalysis in the hands of Freud

gradually led to a new understanding and appreciation of the tremendous importance of early

childhood in shaping the human personality.

The third meaning refers to psychoanalysis as a theory of personality. Searching for a

method to treat hysterical patients, Freud was brought face-to-face with the mainsprings of the

human mind. By the end of the century he still has not given up hope of reducing psychological

phenomena to the laws of physics and chemistry, but eventually he made a clean break and

became a psychological investigator who attempted to explain psychological phenomena in

psychological terms. Again, this was an achievement of the first order, which is not always fully

appreciated.(Freud and Modern Psychoanalysis, 1,7-11)Wishes, as psychic representatives of instinctual drives, originate in the most primitive

layer of the mental apparatus, which is conceptualized as the Id. The Id is closest to the

instinctual drives and may be viewed as an inexhaustable reservoir of wishes, impulses, and

strivings which continuously press for discharge through some form of action of the organism.

This discharge results in tension release which is spoken of as ?pleasure.?

The ego, the second ?agency? of the mental apparatus, serves primarily the organism?s

adaptive function; that is, it mediates between its biological and psychological needs on the one

hand and external reality on the other.

The third major ?agency? of the psychic apparatus is the superego which, in terms of the

child?s emotional development, is acquired last. The superego coincides to some extent with the

commonsense conception of ?conscience.?(Sigmund Freud, 25)

In summary the mental apparatus, in psychoanalytic psychology, is conceptualized as

consisting of three ?agencies,? the id, the ego, and the superego. The three forces, while having

distinctive implications for the functioning of the total personality, are always interacting, never

separate. They are frequently in conflict with each other, and these conflicts are seen in chronic

and exaggerated form in psychoneuroses.

Psychoanalysis falls under the Psychoanalytic Approach which emphasizes the

unconscious aspects of the mind, conflict between biological instincts and society?s demands,

and early family experiences.(Psychology, 10)

Bloom, Harold. Sigmund Freud, Chelsea House Publishers, 1985,pg. 25.

Santrock, John W. Psychology, McGraw Hill, 1997, pg.10.

Strupp Hans, H. Freud and Modern Psychoanalysis, Barron?s Educational Series, Inc., 1967, pg.


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