Essay on Methods of Psychoanalysis

Published: 2021-07-14
1146 words
5 pages
10 min to read
Harvey Mudd College
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By definition, psychoanalysis is the process by which the exploration of the unconscious mind is done in order to cure. Particularly, as founded by Sigmund Freud, it is believed that through various psychoanalysis techniques, it is possible to heal people through making their motivation and unconscious thoughts conscious. Nonetheless, there are various changes within which the psychoanalytic technique has undergone since its development. For instance, at the very first time, this particular technique consisted of directly bringing the moment at which the symptom was formed into focus so as to bring about remembrance and abreaction with the help of the hypnotic state (Busch, 2014). Later on, after giving up on hypnosis, the psychoanalytic process gradually evolved into that which involved discovering the things that the patient had failed to remember based on his or her own free associations. Finally, the psychoanalytic process developed into the modern day consistent technique in which case the psychoanalyst gives up the attempt to bring a certain problem or moment into focus. Thus, concerning the different changes in the psychoanalytic technique, the core intent of this essay is to explore the continuities and discontinuities that are evident between the medieval and modern memory conceptions.

To begin with, modern day studies on the philosophy of mind have been particularly dominated by the cognitivist approach. In this regard, the mental states are abstractly characterized by the usual memory relations not only with stimuli and responses but also with each other. This aside, about the psychoanalysis concept of the memory, today, the psychoanalyst only concerns him or herself in the study of whatever is present on the surface of the patients mind, at a particular time. Later on, the analyst uncovers any form of resistance that may be unknown to the patient after which, the patient is fully involved in the process. Notably, the modern day memory conception requires a sort of division of labor between the patient and the psychoanalyst. For instance, after the psychoanalyst has uncovered any possible resistances, the patient is tasked with the task of relating any forgotten connections and situations with ease.

On the contrary, the very first psychoanalytic process which made use of the hypnotic state brought about the psychical process of analysis in a schematic form. Unlike the modern day psychoanalytic technique, numerous scholars contend that the medieval hypnotic techniques brought about the process of remembering in a very simple form. In this regard, the patient was responsible for putting him or herself back into an earlier situation which he was expected not to confuse with the present situation. From these situations, the patient was expected to give an account of the mental processes belonging to the earlier situation in so far as they had remained normal. Finally, the patient was supposed to add to his or her earlier situations of the memory, anything that was able to emerge as a result of the transformation of the process that had initially been unconscious, into conscious ones.

A comparison of the modern and the post-modern conceptions of memory have it that the interpretation of dreams is one of the most important fields of psychoanalysis. This being the case, psychoanalysts have concluded that the fascination dreams exerts on us is as a result of the common belief that dreams convey messages outside ourselves coming from spiritual entities or a supernatural being such as God himself. Particularly, dreams interpretation in the field of psychoanalysis is a tool that is used to aid in the discovery of psychic contents latent ideas linked with repressed emotions and drives. According to Sigmund Freud, the interpretation of dreams is the royal path towards the discovery of the unconscious mind.

Besides, in the modern day today there is a simple technique of psychodynamic therapy which is a free association in which a patient is allowed to talk about whichever thing that comes to mind. In this regard, the therapist or the psychoanalyst reads a list of words which the patient is expected to respond immediately with the first word which comes to his or her mind. Unlike the post-modern psychoanalytic techniques, the use of the free association technique is hoped that fragments of the patients repressed memories will effectively emerge in the course this particular technique.

On the contrary to the efficiency of the modern psychoanalytic techniques, the free association may not prove useful in cases where the patient possess any form of resistance and is therefore reluctant to tell the analyst what he or she is thinking. Nonetheless, in many occasions, the presence of resistance in the patient serves as a tool which provides a strong clue that the patient is possibly coming close to some essential repressed idea in their thinking. Additionally, unlike Freund Salzman (1980) contends that the psychodynamic therapies that are considered medieval are usually of little help to the patients who have specific anxiety disorders such as phobias and OCD. As a matter of fact, this scholar points out that there are concerns in which case the psychoanalysis may increase the symptoms of OCD owing to the fact that the tendency of the patient is overly concerned with their individual actions and also to ruminate of their plight.

With reference to the ancient psychoanalytic technique, the act of remembrance as it is induced in hypnosis gives an impression of an experiment that is carried out in the laboratory. Based on the newer psychoanalytic technique versions, repeating of something is an implication of conjuring up a piece of real life, and for this particular reason, it cannot be considered as harmless to the patient. Particularly, according to doctors and scholars in this particular field of psychoanalysis, the initiation of the treatment of the patient is in itself a source of change in the conscious attitude of the patient (McLeod, 2014). Therefore, during the entire treatment process, the patient is tasked with the responsibility of finding courage which will help him or her to direct enough attention to the phenomena of his or her illness.

In conclusion, there are numerous changes which are considered as continuities between the pre-modern and the modern techniques of psychoanalysis. This being the case, scholars dating from 1856, during the time of Sigmund Freud have continually held the belief that it is possible to heal people through the psychoanalytic technique which primarily involves bringing the unconscious thoughts of the patients into consciousness. Thus, in a nutshell, unlike the medieval day psychoanalysis techniques, the evolved, or rather the modern psychoanalytic process has developed into the modern day consistent technique in which case the psychoanalyst gives up the attempt to bring an individual problem or moment into focus.


Busch, F. (2014). Creating a psychoanalytic mind: A psychoanalytic method and theory. Hove: Routledge.

McLeod, S. (2014). Psychoanalysis | Simply Psychology. Retrieved from, L. (1980). Treatment of the obsessive personality. Jason Aronson Inc. Publishers.

Freud, S. (1916-1917). Introductory lectures on psychoanalysis. SE, 22: 1-182.

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