Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalysis is a theory which tries to discover the connections between the unconscious components of a patient’s mental processes.
Freud, a neurologist which has great interests in finding out a treatment for patients with neurotic and hysterical symptoms devised psychoanalysis in Vienna in the 1890s. He called this, "the hypothesis of unconscious mental activities" (Hook 3). He then developed a method in which talking with the patients is involved. Through this, he found out that the problems of the patients with these kinds of illness stemmed from either repression and/or problems which the patients encountered during childhood.
These problems, as Freud believed, lies in the unconscious minds of the persons involved. These problems may not be overtly manifested by the patients, however, in one point in their lives, it will eventually come out. Probably, the main question Freud gives is that, what could possibly have happened during the person’s childhood which affected the way he/she behaves presently? This question is primarily needed for the psychoanalyst to be able to decipher why a certain being acts the way he does.
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One of the guiding principles of psychoanalysis is the assumption that the problems of the patients in need of psychotherapy lies within the unconscious. This however, was given proof by Freud. According to him, “the unconscious is the storehouse of instinctual desires, needs, and psychic actions. Also, the unconscious mind acts as a reservoir for repressed memories of traumatic events which continuously influence conscious thoughts and behavior. While past thoughts and memories may be deleted from immediate consciousness, they direct the thoughts and feelings of the individual from the realm of the unconscious”.
Through psychoanalysis, these past thoughts and memories which are stored in the unconscious are then unlocked through a process which is called the “talk therapy”. It is believed that neurotic problems stemmed from the unconscious. These problems, according to Freud, can sometimes manifest themselves in dreams. The aim, therefore, of psychoanalysis is to bring the repressed memories in the unconscious to the consciousness through a psychoanalytic treatment for it to be addressed accordingly.
No matter how successful the movement became, many critics still emerged and deliberately demonstrated their disbelief to the said movement. One of the major critics of Freud’s psychoanalysis is Grünbaum. In 1986, he said that "…more often than not, they may be the patient's responses to the suggestions and expectations of the analyst" (186). He is referring to the clinical data gathered by the psychoanalyst. He claims therefore, that psychoanalysis is not reliable because of the fact that most of the patients respond according to what their analysts want to hear.
However, if we are going to go through the aim of psychoanalysis, we will find out that Freud was trying to find out “reasons” rather than “causes” so therefore, results are technically not important. His main focus was on how the patients will respond to a certain question and how these patients would reason out when given a certain problem. Technically, the procedure is merely a problem solving process.
Another critic, Torrey Fuller, considered by some to be a leading American psychiatrist, writing in Witchdoctors and Psychiatrists (1986) stated that psychoanalytic theories have no more scientific basis than the theories of traditional native healers, "witchdoctors" or modern "cult" alternatives. In fact, an increasing number of scientists regard psychoanalysis as a pseudoscience (Cioffi, F. 1998). However, this claim by Fuller, was countered by one of the proponents of psychoanalysis by saying that the concepts and theories of psychoanalysis are more akin to the humanities than those of the physica/biological sciences. Therefore, even if they claim that it is not scientific, they cannot push through with that kind of argument.
When Freud died, psychoanalysis continued to flourished in its role in solving mysteries with the unconscious. In fact, there emerged the post-freuedian schools which are the Object Relations Theory and the Interpersonal Psychoanalysis. These schools of thought reinforced, in some ways, the psychoanalytic movement proposed by Freud. The Object Relations theory states that the ego-self exist only in relation to objects, be it internal or external. These objects, basically, are said to be formed through interactions with the parents during childhood.
According to object-relations theory there are three fundamental "affects" that can exist between the self and the other; attachment, frustration, and rejection. These “affects” are considered as the major building blocks of the personality. Therefore, if these affects are triggered, there is the possibility that a change of personality may occur; a changein terms of a person’s perception towards a particular thing or can be a change with regards to a person’s ability to interact with other people.
These kinds of changes, as believed by Freudian theorists, may be addressed through psychoanalysis. The Interpersonal Psychoanalysis, on the other hand, states that a patient's interpersonal interactions with others provide insights into the causes and cures of mental disorder. It is believed that patients keep many aspects of interpersonal relationships out of their awareness by selective inattention. The role of psychoanalysis, therefore, is to bring out detailed information from the patient which will lead them to finding out the interpersonal patterns within that patient.
In line with the arguments of Freud’s critics, one question that could be raised is that, has psychoanalytic therapy really “cured” mentally impaired people or are these people just cured because of the fact that they believed that they were cured and not because they really were? There could be a great possibility that people just perceived that he is cured even if he is not. This is one good question that can be addressed with regards to the psychoanalytic process.
There were many critics who emerged during the peak of the success of the psychoanalytic movement. Some were for the movement, many were against it. However, it still flourished and up to now, this method is continuously being used.
Wholly, Freud’s Psychoanalytic movement has strengths and weaknesses. Probably, part of the strengths of this movement are the facts that clearly, this theory addresses its problem, it can be applied in practical ways and, most importantly, it withstands the test of time. This only means that no matter how many negative criticisms this movement encountered, it is still able to function in such a way that it is being helpful to the society.
No matter how many flaws were encountered during the generation of the movement, it is still useful up to this time. In fact, even today, psychoanalysis still remains as a valid option for people who seek help because of mental illness. The movement will continuously flourish because of the fact that it addresses its problems accordingly and it is easy to conduct as long as the involved parties participate accordingly to the process being done.
For somebody who whole - heartedly believes in the psychoanalytic movement, it is quite hard to point out certain weaknesses of the movement. However, the only weakness that it might really probably possess is the fact that it might really probably be just giving data which are just interpretations of the analyst which is again, going back to Grünbaum’s argument, he said that the patients could probably just saying what the analyst wants to hear. But as stated earlier, Freud’s aim is to find out the “reasons” and not the “causes”.
The psychoanalytic theory can be considered most useful in addressing problems of patients who are considered mentally impaired. People who undergo Psychoanalysis are people who are emotionally impaired with symptoms like depression or anxiety, loneliness, and incapacity to feel close to anyone. Brain disorders like schizophrenia and autism can be cured through this method as well. However, psychoanalysis would not work with schizophrenics and autistics because such patients ignore their therapist's insights and are resistant to treatment (Dolnick 40).
Depression, loneliness, and the incapacity to feel close to anyone, as believed by Freud, to be easily addressed through psychoanalysis, are states wherein a person experiences difficulty in coping up with changes that are constantly happening to his surroundings. He therefore encounters a feeling of being unwanted by the society. With this kind of feeling, the person involved then lacks self esteem which he needs in order for him to get along with the people around him. Freud believed that this kind of problem can be solved if proper interventions will be done and proper techniques of communication will put into practice.
This is when the person involved is willing to talk about his problems; the things that makes him think that he is unwanted by other people; the reasons why he is having a hard time coping up with the changes happening around him. Through talking the problem out, the person can now feel that somebody is there to listen to him. This kind of method only works if the person involved is willing enough to disclose himself to another person.
Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalysis is a theory which tries to discover the connections between the unconscious components of a patient’s mental processes. Personally, based on the studies done for this particular topic, I believe that it really is an effective way intervening people with certain problems with their behavior. With the different studies done by Freud, there are ample evidences that conscious thought and behavior are influenced by non-conscious memories and processes.
As stated earlier, the psychotherapy could greatly help people with mental and emotional problems by knowing the past events that greatly affects people’s thought and ideas through unlocking the “unconscious” thereby being able to decipher why a certain person acts the way he does, and thereby addressing the mental problem of the patient.
Hook, Sidney, ed. Psychoanalysis, Scientific Method, and Philosophy: A Symposium. New York: New York University Press, 1959.
The researcher use data from Psychoanalysis, Scientific Method, and Philosophy: A Symposium to strengthen the topic sentence that Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalysis is a theory which tries to discover the connections between the unconscious components of a patient’s mental processes. The book talks about Psychoanalysis as a scientific theory and not as a mere philosophical theory, it aims to answer the different questions thrown against the movement. It is through this book that the researcher was able to make strong points against the different debates against the movement. The book also gave enough background about the rise and development of the movement.
Freud, Sigmund. An outline of psycho – analysis. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1989.
The researcher use data from An outline of psycho – analysis to strengthen the topic sentence that Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalysis is a theory which tries to discover the connections between the unconscious components of a patient’s mental processes. This is a book that focuses on Freud’s psychoanalysis movement. It talks about the fundamentals of psychoanalysis. He marshals here the whole range of psychoanalytic theory and therapy in lucid prose and continues his open-mindedness to new departures. The researcher used the source to describe Psychoanalysis as a whole on the first part of the paper. The researcher also used this to counter some arguments thrown against the movement.
Grunbaum, Adolf. The foundations of psychoanalysis. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1985.
The researcher use data from The foundations of psychoanalysis to strengthen the topic sentence that Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalysis is a theory which tries to discover the connections between the unconscious components of a patient’s mental processes. This is a philosophical critique of the foundations of Sigmund Freud's psychoanalysis. Through this book, Grunbaum was able to state his debates against Freud’s psychoanalysis. The researcher uses the data, to cite an example of debates against the movement.
Cioffi, F. Freud and the Question of Pseudoscience. New York: Open Court Publishing Company, 1998.
The researcher use data from Freud and the Question of Pseudoscience to strengthen the topic sentence that Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalysis is a theory which tries to discover the connections between the unconscious components of a patient’s mental processes. The book has shown that psychoanalysis was actually more concrete to humanities rather than the biophysical science. Like a study by Dolnick, cited below, it also discusses debates on the movements, as well as attacks on Freud himself. The researcher was able to get enough background on causes why debates against the movement started.
Dolnick, Edward. Madness on the couch: Blaming the victim in the heyday of psychoanalysis. New York: Simon & Chester, 1998.
The researcher use data from Madness on the couch: Blaming the victim in the heyday of psychoanalysis to strengthen the topic sentence that Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalysis is a theory which tries to discover the connections between the unconscious components of a patient’s mental processes. This book focused on the pseudoscientific theories and dangerous practices that emerged and flourished in the wake of World War II as American psychotherapists battled to understand and treat schizophrenia, autism, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Though unlike Cioffi’s Freud and the question of Pseudoscience, this one strongly emphasize that psychoanalysis did more harm than good to patients. It is through this, that the researcher was able to cite some examples to strengthen. his position with regards to the psychoanalytic movement.
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