Psychoanalysis is theoretical model and therapeutic approach developed by Freud. As developed by Freud psychoanalytic therapy is a first systematic approach toward understanding psychological factors in mental disorders. Major principles were based on the clinical study of individual patients who consulted Freud for treatment of their problems. Basically, Sigmund Freud (Full name of Freud) was a brilliant young Viennese physician who specialized in neurology. He was appointed as lecturer on nervous diseases at the university of Vienna.


Roots of psychoanalytic thought lies in the study of hypnosis. Mesmerism. The story starts with one of the most notorious figures in psychiatry, Anton Mesmer, who further developed paracelsus` notion of the influence of the planets on the human body. (From Abnormal Psychology and Modern Life). His theory of the influence was believed to be caused by a universal magnetic fluid, and it was assumed that the distribution of that fluid in the human body determined health or disease. Mesmer, in an attempt to find a cure for mental disorders, concluded that all persons possess magnetic forces and these forces may be utilized to effect a cure in those who are suffering from mental disorders.

Mesmer started to use the notion as stated above in practice in Vienna and in various other towns and he succeeded when he came to Paris in 1778. He began to treat all kinds of diseases by “animal magnetism” in a clinic with different chemicals, iron rods, and appropriate music where he used to appear in a lilac robe in the darkened room. Most of these phenomena were discovered later by the use of hypnosis. Mesmer was declared a charlatan by his medical colleagues and forced to leave Paris. Due to theses reasons, he, shortly, faded in obscurity. Thereafter, Mesmer’s methods and results, however, were the center of controversy in scientific circles for many years. In fact, mesmerism was a source of heated arguments in the early part of nineteenth century as psychoanalysis was in the early part of the twentieth century.

Nancy school

“Nancy school”- A Frenchman Liebault, the physician, used hypnosis in his practice successfully and who practiced at Nancy. A professor of medicine, Bernheim and Liebault joined hands to work together and found various phenomena of hypnosis. The physicians who accepted the new research came to be known as “Nancy school.” Besides, the physicians of Nancy school in a major medical debates of history triumphed and Jean Charcot who was head of the Salpetriere Hospital in Paris proved wrong. In 1885, Freud went to study under Charcot and later became acquainted with the work of Liebault and Bernheim at Nancy. He was impressed and came away with the notion that powerful mental processes remain hidden from consciousness.

In Vienna, Freud began to work in collaboration with Joseph Breuer who treated neurotic patients with an interesting innovation in the use of hypnosis, the cathartic method. A paper psychical mechanisms of hysterical phenomena was published by Freud and Breuer jointly. It was one of the great milestones of psychodynamics. Thus, the unconscious and unconscious processes were discovered. An incident in a hypnotic trance while working with a female client and the outcome subsequently on awakening made Freud to dispense with the hypnotic state entirely in favour of Free association. As a result of that the term psychoanalysis proved to achieve a more adequate adjustment and to gain insights.

Psychoanalytic therapy

It is an intensive, long-term therapy to uncover repressed memories, thoughts, fears, and conflicts. It is considered that these stem from problems in early psychosexual development. The main job of a psychoanalyst is helping the individual resolve that in the light of adult reality. It is assumed that gaining insight into unconscious material may free individuals from the need to waste their energies on repression and other defense mechanisms. The anxieties that had given way to repression initially might be resolved consciously. If an individual who is freed from this burden of threatening material and from manoeuvre of keeping it out of consciousness, one can turn one`s energies to improve personality integration and more effective living.

The four basic techniques of psychoanalysis are described below:

Free association. A more direct method of gaining access to unconscious or hidden material than hypnosis is free association. The basic rule of free association is that one must say whatever comes into one’s mind whether it is painful or irrelevant. Free association is psychoanalytic procedure for probing the unconscious in which individual gives a running account of one`s every thought and feeling.

The client is seated comfortably in a chair or lies in a relaxed position on a couch and reveals all the thoughts, feelings, and desires that come to mind. It is one idea leads to another. The therapist takes a position behind in order to avoid distraction or disruption of free flow of associations. Freud believed that associations may be determined like other events. Freud stated that conscious represents a small portion of the mind, while the unconscious is like the submerged part of an iceberg and is much larger portion than conscious. The long-submerged motives and conflicts are brought to light by free association. The therapist put disconnected ideas, beliefs, actions, and so forth into a meaningful explanation so that the client get insight into one’s unconscious or maladaptive behavior. One is guided toward increased awareness and understanding of the long-submerged feelings. Everything of the unconscious material is interpreted by the therapist.

Analysis of dreams. Dreams are referred to as the “royal road to the unconscious.” During sleep repressive defenses are lowered due to that forbidden desires and feelings may be manifested by various forms and things. It is an outlet in dreams and the phenomena occur why because some motives are not in accordance with the norms, ethos and restraints and apparently unacceptable to the individual even in dreams. These are not revealed openly. Verily due to these reasons these motives appear in disguised or symbolic form. Dreams are of two types, manifest content and latent content. The therapist`s task is to reveal these disguised meanings. The symbols in manifest content of the dream may be a cue or clue.

Analysis of resistance. An individual may resist to talk about some thoughts, hidden motives or experiences due to unwillingness or not in a position to talk on certain points. One may change topics on some pretext or telling it’s really is not as much important as you see or it is full of absurdities. Resistance, sometimes, come from the client (what one says or how one says it) who is ready and smooth, but not sincere. It may be possible that forgetting an appointment or coming late to an appointment in consequence of resistance shown in previous sitting. It occurs due to resistance as the individual is not ready to discuss the threatening and painful material. It’s sources must be known if the client can face it after counseling and learn to deal with it in a realistic manner, it would be beneficial.

Analysis of transference. The relationship between the client and therapist is also of utmost importance. It may become complex and emotionally involved on the part of a client as one takes the therapist as parent or some other person who remained very close in the past. The therapist’s attitudes and feelings relatively toward the individual play an important role. It is called transference. Moreover, the client may react to the therapist as one used to the other or earlier person. The hostility and rejection may be the same as they felt long ago in the relationship with another person. If the therapist could recognize the transference relationship it would be helpful.In addition, transference neurosis results in real life in subsequence of reliving of a pathogenic past relationship. Over all to above, the countertransference takes into account both the therapist and the individual  if they are involved.

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