Psychoanalysis & Psychoanalytically Oriented Psychotherapy
Written by Slobodan Nesovic, Psy.D.
Most of the people have heard about Sigmund Freud and his famous psychological approach to treatment of unconscious conflict. Psychoanalysis has been very popular during the middle of the 20th century among psychiatrists around the world, especially in Europe and the United States of America. The innovative ideas that emerged from psychoanalysis are still in wide use today. Many people are aware that the unconscious forces influence their lives and even more people are familiar with famous Freudian slip, when a person says one thing and really meant to say something else. A hundred years after Freud contemporary psychoanalysts have developed psychoanalytic approach to even more sophisticate levels. Today, we have new movements within the field, such as object-relations and ego psychology. One of the most recent movements that came out of object-relations theory is relational psychoanalysis.
Freud was born in Moravia, today's Check Republic, in 1856, and at young age moved to Vienna, Austria. He studied medical science and became a psychiatrist. After years of experimentation with hypnosis he developed a technique of free association, which became his main tool of exploring the unconscious terrain. Freud was well connected to his contemporaries and had close collaboration with many brilliant minds, among who were Josef Breuer, C.G. Jung, and Alfred W. Adler. Freud and Breuer worked together on few very first psychoanalytic cases and documented their discussions of Anna O., along with other case studies, in their 1895 book, Studies on Hysteria. Freud was very confident of his burgeoning approach to analysis of the psyche and was not an easy person to accept other's opinions. His temperament, confidence and insistence that he had correct insights into psyche's functioning made him a figure that he is today--the father of psychoanalysis.
Freud's contributions are numerable and certainly cross many depth psychologies, such as Adler's individual psychology or Jung's analytical psychology. However, Freud is the most referred clinician within the various psychoanalytic schools. Historically, soon after Freud's death in 1939 there was a crisis within the field of psychoanalysis. Three schools of thought emerged after master passed. They were Anna Freud's group, which later developed into ego psychology in America, British Independent Group that was led by Sylvia Payne, Marjorie Brierley, Ronald Fairbairn and Ella Freeman Sharpe, and Object Relations group led by Melanie Klein. All three groups had one thing in common, they all quoted Freud at the beginning of their articles and they further developed Freud's ideas of the unconscious conflict.
Eventually hundreds of theorists contributed to post-Freudian thought. Donald Winnicott, Wilfred Bion, and Stephen A. Mitchell had great influence in appearance of a new paradigm shift in psychoanalysis called relational turn or interpersonal psychoanalysis. One could say that this paradigm shift has been in the making all along, however, only recently clinicians have been writing more openly about it. In relational psychoanalysis therapist and a patient are much closer related than in more traditional approach. They are both perceived as human beings who experience emotions in the therapy room, which is a useful tool in unearthing deep unconscious material. Relational psychoanalytic approach is often used in psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy, where patient is seen 1 to 3 times per week over the extended period of time, just like in most other depth psychologies. The patient sits across the therapist instead of lying down like in more traditional analysis. However, whether the patient is going to lie down on a couch or sit up across the therapist is very individual and it depends on a therapist and a patient. Very few modern psychoanalysts insist that their patients must lie down to do analysis. In relational psychoanalytic treatment it is highly likely that patient will never have to lie down at all.
Psychoanalysis and analytically oriented psychotherapy is an excellent way to work on one's unconscious conflicts and to help oneself live a more balanced and functional life. For further reading about various psychoanalytic theories and practice, one could look up the following books:
1. Freud and Beyond - A History of Modern Psychoanalytic Thought by Stephen A. Mitchell and Margaret J. Black.
2. Introductory Lectures onPsychoanalysis by James Strachey
3. Beyond the Pleasure Principle by Sigmund Freud
4. Neurosis and Human Growth: The Struggle Towards Self-Realization by Karen Horney
5. The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis by Jacques Lacan
6. Loss: The Sadness and Depression by John Bowlby
7. The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud
8. Escape from Freedom by Erich Fromm
9. Identity: Youth and Crisis by Erik H. Erikson