Psychoanalysis is a theory that assumes that the past shapes the present and stresses the importance of unconscious factors that can influences our conscious thoughts and actions. In other words psychoanalysis analyzes how unconscious factors influence conscious thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Sigmund Freud was the first psychoanalyst. With the discovery of the unconscious, he developed the idea that the ‘unconscious conflict’ is significant in subsequent normal and abnormal behavior. He then pursued a theory of psychoanalytic treatment that would help patients recall suppressed traumatic memories and form ‘associative connection’ with conscious thoughts. Psychoanalytic treatment or therapy tackles conscious thought by tracing these thoughts to their origin.
My mom is a therapist and a psychoanalytic fellow at Penn. She brought up in a conversation an article she read about a woman who went through psychoanalytic therapy. The woman began therapy for depression; she also struggled with aspects of her social, economic, and intimate life. She did not know why. Slowly, the woman began to talk about how she would feel distraught visiting her parents, and feel extreme discomfort regarding a tree that stands in the yard behind her parents house. When asked about adult relationships as a child and the potential of sexual abuse, the woman said no confidently. The psychoanalyst began to realize the woman may have dissociative symptoms related to a trauma she may have experience as a child. After working through unconscious mental processes with her psychoanalyst, the woman began to have vivid flashbacks of being tied to the tree for hours by a family member and abused. In an article on Psychoanalysis, the experiments conducted by Jung and Riklin are discussed. They found that the process of association is a process that is beyond a subjects control and attention plays the greatest part in the process of association. The above example exemplifies the minds power to dissociate traumatic events and bury them into our unconscious memory because they are too painful. While rehashing these events were painful, the woman was able to work through the behaviors and emotions related to her trauma that she was playing out in other aspects of her life such as social and professional relationships.
Arden, Abraham. Psychoanalysis: its theories and practical application. New York: n.p., 1972. 116. Web. 5 Feb. 2014. <http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.31822013766522;view=1up;seq=2>.
Pfister, Oscar, and Eduard Hitschmann. Definition and history of psychoanalysis and Freud’s theories of the neuroses. New York: n.p., 1916. Web. 5 Feb. 2014. <link –> http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=nnc2.ark:/13960/t91841x87 >.