Wednesday 1 March 2017

School of Psychoanalysis

Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud

What is psychoanalysis?

The development of psychoanalysis has its origin in the medical practice of Sigmund Freud in Vienna around 1900.

Freud, who is considered as the founder of psychoanalysis, was an Austrian neurologist. He was born to Galician Jewish parents on 6th May 1856. In the year 1938, Freud left his native country (Austria) in order to escape his life from the Nazis. The very next year (that is 1939), he died in exile in the United Kingdom on 23rd September 1939.

Freud was a practicing physician who specialized in diseases of the nervous system. He found that many of his patients with nervous disease were indeed suffering from mental conflicts and neurotic states. These mental conflicts and neurotic states manifested themselves as physical disorders such as extreme fatigue, nervousness, insomnia, and so on.
In such a situation, treating the patients’ physical symptoms failed to get at the root of the problem. Clearly, what the patients needed was psycho-therapy rather than physical therapy.

While Freud was puzzling over these difficulties, Jean-Martin Charcot, a French practitioner, and Joseph Bewer, a German practitioner had been experiencing considerable success with the “hypnotic treatment” of hysteria. Freud was in touch with these results.

Sigmund Freud tried out hypnotic treatment on his patients. Soon, he noticed that all patients could not be hypnotized. Moreover, hypnosis resulted only in a temporary alleviation of symptoms, not in permanent cure.  

Freud observed that the real value of this treatment lay in a deeper and more complicated analysis of the patients. Thus, he changed over to a new technique called the “free association technique”.


Free Association Technique:

In “free association technique”, the patient relaxes on a couch and freely tells whatever comes into his mind. The psychoanalyst listens to the patient and observes his emotional reaction, signs of distress, resistance to the treatment and so on.

Following this session, the therapist discusses with the patient interpretation of the facts which had been brought to light during the analytical period.

Dream Analysis:

During the course of his practice, Freud became convinced that dreams were of special significance for the new therapy. The analysis of the dream revealed to him the hidden wishes, lost memories, and emotional attitude of the patient.

Dream analysis, or the analysis of a patient’s dream, also revealed repressed unconscious desires which were very important for the treatment of neurotic disorders. Freud considered dream interpretation as an important part of the theory and practice of psychoanalysis. He considered dream as a royal road to the interpretation of unconscious.

After the analysis, dreams reveal two distinct types of contents—the manifest content and the latent content.

The dream as remembered by the dreamer upon awakening is the manifest content. But the real or the hidden facts in the dream are the latent contents of the dream.

The latent content may be quite different from the manifest content, because the former gets distorted and undergoes considerable modification by a certain process known as “dream work”.

Dream work operates through three ways: condensation, displacement, and secondary elaboration.

Condensation: In condensation, some elements of the dream are omitted altogether and others appear only in a fragmentary form. Sometimes, several elements may be blended into one. Generally unpleasant, unacceptable and harmful events in the dream are condensed.

Displacement: Most often, some elements of the dream may be replaced or displaced by other elements which are acceptable to the dreamer. Sometimes, the latent content of the dream takes an opposite direction. For example, clothing often represents nakedness; love may be a disguise for hate. This process is known as displacement.

Secondary elaboration: It is a process of hiding the real significance of the dream. Through this process, the dreamer, upon awakening, makes a good story out of the dream. He, therefore, adds new elements that were not in the original dream.

Dream analysis is designed to reverse these various processes and to reveal precisely what is repressed or hidden. This is done in two ways: First, the dreamer is required to associate around the various elements of the dream. Second, the dreams generally appear symbolically. Thus, an analysis of the various symbols in the dream reveals the real object of the dream.