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What is Psychoanalysis?


Updated January 24, 2006

Question: What is Psychoanalysis?

Psychoanalysis is a form of psychotherapy that was developed in Vienna in the 1890s by Sigmund Freud. Freud believed that many mental health problems stemmed from unacceptable repressed unconscious desires and fantasies of a sexual nature.

Psychoanalysis is a long-term therapy that attempts to help the patient or client develop insight into deep-seated problems that are usually thought to stem from childhood. The therapist is called an analyst, and the patient is usually reclining on a couch while the analyst actually faces away from them. It is thought that the analyst must remain a blank slate (rather than a real person) so that the patient will "transfer" feelings that they have toward important people in their life onto the analyst. The analysis then consists of analysing this "transference." Psychoanalysis sessions can occur as often as daily, but the frequency is often less often than this. All analysts are required to go through their own personal analysis as a part of their training.

Psychoanalytically-oriented psychotherapies have develped over time that have their roots in psychoanalysis but resemble other forms of psychothherapy in many ways. In these "ingisht-oriented" approaches the patient or client and the therapist usually sit in chairs facing each other and meet once or twice a week.

Last updated 1/23/06

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