APA refers Psychoanalysis as a specialty in psychology that is distinguished from other specialties by its body of knowledge and its intensive treatment approaches. It aims at structural changes and modifications of a person’s personality.

Psychoanalysis promotes awareness of unconscious, maladaptive and habitually recurrent patterns of emotion and behavior, allowing previously unconscious aspects of the self to become integrated and promoting optimal functioning, healing and creative expression.

Psychoanalysis suggests that people can experience catharsis and gain insight into their current state of mind by bringing the content of the unconscious into conscious awareness. Through this process, a person can find relief from psychological distress.

Psychoanalysis is a theory of mind that sees human subjectivity as rooted in three elements: the body, social/familial structures and language. Psychoanalytic therapy allows the patient to distinguish perceptions from fantasies, desires from needs, or speculations from truths.

It has three applications:

  1. a method of investigation of the mind;
  2. a systematized set of theories about human behavior;
  3. a method of treatment of psychological or emotional illness.

Psychoanalysis was first devised in Vienna in the 1890s by Sigmund Freud. It involves analyzing the root causes of behavior and feelings by exploring the unconscious mind and the conscious mind’s relation to it. It focuses on an individual’s unconscious, deep-rooted thoughts that often stem from childhood.


Phases in the Evolution of Psychoanalysis.

First phase

During first phase of psychoanalysis, Freud found that the central aspect of human mind was unconscious thoughts. That could be accessed through dreams, fantasies, jokes, slip of tongues, hypnosis, free association, and so on.

Second phase

In the second phase, Freud discarded hypnosis and emphasized on free association. He found that clients voluntarily permitted the emergence of unconscious materials in free association. As Freud always wanted a unique theory so he developed his own specific techniques like Dream Analysis, Free Association and so on.

Third phase

During the third phase, he elaborated his dream analysis technique and described primary and secondary processes. Primary processes governed by Id, the pleasure principle and are illogical. They can be found in dreams, poetry, myth and magic. Psychosis is the ultimate form of this process.

History of Psychoanalysis.

Psychoanalysis has also its roots in hypnosis. The first contributor was Franz Mesmer, who is known for inducing a mental state called Mesmerism. He has presented the idea of animal magnetism. He used magnets for the treatment of paralysis, later he claimed that he could treat paralysis without magnets by directing his own magnetic fluid to the patient’s body.

Freud emphasized on unconscious drives. He used the term Psychoanalysis in three distinct ways:

  • Firstly, it is a theory which describes the structure of the mind, the development of the personality, and psychopathology.
  • Secondly, it is used as a technique to treat psychological difficulties.
  • Thirdly, it is a method of scientific investigation based on a clinical observation called case study.

As a therapy, psychoanalysis is based on the concept that individuals are unaware of the many factors that cause their behavior and emotions. However, these unconscious factors have the potential to produce unhappiness, which in turn expressed through a score of distinguishable symptoms, including disturbing personality traits, difficulty in relating to others, or disturbances in self-esteem or general disposition.

Difference between Psychoanalysis and Psychodynamic.


  • Focuses on repressed childhood conflicts, Id content, Ego activity.
  • Brings conflict to conscious awareness to overcome neurosis.
  • All adult problems can be traced back to childhood
  • An Interaction of ego, superego, and id.
  • Tends to affect a lot more of your personality.
  •  Conducted more frequently over a longer period of time.


  • Less emphasis on sexual and aggressive drives.
  • Less emphasis on unconscious information.
  • More emphasis on past relationships.
  • Offshoot of the psychoanalytic school.
  • Interpretation is main tool.
  • Mediator, a conscience and a devil.

Goal of Psychoanalysis.

The goal of psychoanalysis varies according to the client, but they focus mainly on personal adjustment, usually inducing a reorganization of internal forces within the person.

  • The primary goal in most cases is to help client in achieving insight which can consciously make them aware of the psychodynamics that underlie their problems. This awareness helps the clients to make adjustment to their current life situations. People repeatedly encounter and deal with repressed emotions, motives and conflicts.
  • The second major goal is to help client work through a developmental stage, no resolved in primary goal. If accomplished, clients become unstuck and are able to live more productively.
  • The final goal is to help clients cope with the demands of the society in which they live.

The goal of psychoanalysis is to enable the person to deal with the unconscious urges in a realistic and mature manner.


  • Marty Sapp (2009): Psychodynamic, Affective, and Behavioral Theories to Psychotherapy. Charles C Thomas – Publisher LTD.
  • Jane Milton, Caroline Polmear and Julia Fabricius (2004): A Short Introduction to Psychoanalysis. SAGE Publishing Ltd.

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