Key Concepts Of Psychoanalytic Therapy

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Psychoanalytic Therapy

While exploring underlying causes of behavior, Sigmund Freud proposed that slips of tongue, errors and faulty memory are results of unconscious reasons. Therefore, Freudian Psychoanalytic Therapy is a psychology of the conflicting forces inherent in the dualistic nature of humanity. (James & Gilliland, 1980)

Key Concepts

Psychoanalytic theory embodies hypothesis and assumptions in the psychotic relationship between people and the environment.

Firstly, Freud’s concept of the unconscious. According to Freud, the mind consists of the conscious, preconscious and unconscious. (James & Gilliland, 1980) The consciousness refers to the level of awareness while the unconscious stores all the experiences and repressed materials
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Anxiety is referred to the feeling of dread that is caused by the repressed feelings and memories. It helps warn an individual of impending behavior. There are three kinds of anxiety. (Corey, 2013)

Reality anxiety. This refers to the fear of danger from reality. The level of anxiety is relational to the threat. (Corey, 2013)

Neurotic anxiety. This refers to the fear that instincts will cause the individual to do something that is punishable. (Corey, 2013)

Moral anxiety. This refers to the fear of own conscience. (Corey, 2013)

Fourthly, instincts. Instincts can be life instincts. It helps an individual survive. It is oriented towards growth, development and creativity. It is also known as libido. (James & Gilliland, 1980) Instincts can also be death instincts. It is associated with the aggressive drive in an individual. It can be manifested by their unconscious behavior of the wish to die or hurt themselves or others. (Corey, 2013)

Personality in Psychoanalytic Theory

An individual’s personality consists of three systems that only exist as a psychological structure. They are id, ego and
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This is due to the fact that it deals with unconscious impulses and repressed experiences; hence, common sense is no longer applicable. To overcome this, the use of the unconscious therapy can be used with common sense in order to make the analysis justifiable. (Farrell, 1981)

Psychoanalysis Today

Transference. In today’s culture, transference may not acknowledge its roots in psychoanalytic therapy but it is constantly in use. For example, we tend to elevate the status of doctors, priests and politicians as we expect more of them than mere humans, also known as idealizing transference. (Farrell, 1981)

Resistance. Resistance helps therapists detect the presence of buried material in the unconscious. In today’s culture, resistance is widely seen as turning a blind eye to the painful truths of our past and present. (Farrell, 1981)

Trauma. Psychoanalytic therapy in today’s culture has helped trauma victim deal with repressed experiences in order to avoid a chronic revisiting of the trauma. (Farrell, 1981)


Although there were many faults in Freud’s work, it is evident that it has contributed significantly to today’s culture. Many aspects of Freud’s work can be used in other therapies to help understand an individual’s
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