Example Of Essay On Psychoanalytic Theory

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Theory, Sigmund Freud, Psychology, Psychoanalysis, Nursing, Treatment, Association, Entrepreneurship

Pages: 10

Words: 2750

Published: 2020/11/29


The psychoanalytic theory began with the clinical works of Sigmund Freud. Freud based his theories on the cases of the mentally challenged individuals. The theory reflects the ideology that childhood experiences along with one’s experiences as a child has a tremendous impact on the psychological development of an individual. As a result of psychosexual ideas, Freud concluded that the conflicts in an individual often occur during the psychosexual stages and have a long-term effect on an individual’s behavior and personality. It is imperative that one understands that psychoanalysis is Freud’s early attempts at offering a comprehensive theory that explains the concept of the mind. The theory also reflects on the treatment that comes with psychoanalysis. The following pages offer an insight into the history of psychoanalysis, the problems associated with the theory, the strengths and weakness of the theory and a conclusion. The explanation of the theory in the following pages comes from a variety of journal and scholarly reviews on Freud’s psychoanalysis theory.

History of Psychoanalysis

During his illustrious career, Freud attempted to create an explanation of the way the mind works as it relates to neurology and physiology. Early in his career treating patients with neurological disturbances, Freud came to the conclusion that there were symptoms that had no bodily or organic foundation on which to reproduce the actual thing. These behaviors were real in the minds of the patients based on neurological factors. As a result, Freud research and tested the psychological premise on which these symptoms appeared. In addition, Freud made significant progress in his treatment of these symptoms. During his year in Paris, Freud learnt the art of hypnosis so that he could use the technique to treat his patients. Despite the success of hypnosis, Freud found that the effects were only temporary and the treatment only helped the problem at the surface and did not deal with the inner problem.
Additionally, Freud realized that only some of his subjects could be hypnotized, and therefore, the treatment was not totally effective. As such Freud expanded his research as he adopted the method employed by the Viennese doctor, Breuer. Breuer’s theory produced the treatment of neurological disorders with the cathartic method. In this treatment, patients discussed their problems as a means of helping them understand and eliminate the problems. The incorporation of Breuer’s method was cemented into Freud’s psychoanalysis theory as free association. Later, free association formed one of the major tools of psychoanalysis. 
In psychology, psychoanalysis is really a branch of sophisticated professional psychology that is different because of the body of knowledge and the way that the theorists treat the issue. Sarason and Sarason postulate that Freud’s intrigues with the thoughts and the fantasies in the human mind reappears at different times to metaphysic conflict in an individual’s actions, (Sarason & Sarason, 2002, p. 62). The theories of personality incorporate human development of normal and abnormal behavior, artistic functioning and social behavior. The fact is that the cognitive processes, affective reactions and the unconscious and conscious processes are part of its purview, (American Psychological Association, 2015, par. 1).One of the most notably, historical feature of the analysis is the fact that the theory implements long-term, rigorous, psychotherapeutic activity, (American Psychological Association, 2015, par. 1). These treatments include interventions as attention to free association, dream interpretation, an examination of the therapist-patient relationship, and other distinguishing foci so as to achieve an effective transformation in the character of the individuals.
Robbins writes that the theory of psychoanalysis came through at the turn of the century and the foundation for the came through with the work of Freud, (Robbins, 2006, par.1). Additionally, Freud conceptualized the individuals mind and suggested that the metaphor behind the psychoanalysis theory makes it similar to an ancient but buried ruin that an archaeologist could unearth the treasures of an ancient civilization, (Robbins, 2006, par. 1). Conversely, the influence of Freud's theory can be traced from the hard-core innate scientific foundations as a student of neurology, (Robbins, 2006, par. 1). His works stem the teachings of one of his teachers, Franz Brentano, but Freud hardly attributes his work to the Brentano’s influence on his understanding of the consciousness of the mind. Patterson believes that it is Freud’s extensive study of the mind that led to his theory that talking to a patient would allow the patients to carry the suppressed motives and desires to the conscious state and not express them as physiological symptoms, (Patterson, 2008, p. 17).
Arguably, the tension that arises lies within the phenomenological approach and the understanding of the mind, (Robbins, 2006, par. 2). In fact, Freud's partiality to a natural scientific justification in his work creates much tension in his work with the psychoanalytic theory following Freud, (Robbins, 2006, par. 2). Freud's adaptation of the psychoanalysis theory also have a connection to the researches on hysterics that were carried out through hypnosis by two renowned neurologists Hippolyte Bernheim and Jean-Martin Charcot, (Robbins, 2006, par. 3). Both Bernheim and Charcot suggested that hysteria originated from the mental influences instead of the overtly physiological influences in humans, (Robbins, 2006, par. 3).
Hypnosis requires that the patient be placed in a hypnotic daze that removed symptoms of neurosis through the posthypnotic suggestion, (Robbins, 2006, par. 3). But, Freud’s use hypnosis was short – lived as he was a poor hypnotist. Instead, Freud leaned towards developing a listening approach to helping his clients. Through listening, Freud realized that hysteria drained his clients emotionally especially when past experiences surfaced. Patients were led to talk and associated the past events to the current problems. This procedure allowed the patients to recover the event which triggered the emotional response and could recover from the hysteria based on this process. Eventually Freud relinquished his use of hypnotism and instead embrace the technique, "free association," where the client could put aside inhibitions and instead the associations that would lead to recovering the unconscious events in the memory.
During 1895 to 1905, Freud's theory and innovations formed the foundations of his clinical work patients. Initially, these theoretical formulations accounted for the topographic mock-up of the psyche, which Freud place in three categories: the unconscious, preconscious, and conscious, (Robbins, 2006, par. 3). With years of establishing his practice, Freud improved his techniques in psychoanalysis. As a result, he became more skilled at using the suppressed ideas of his clients to discover the foundation of using the unconscious memory to deal with the psychological problems that these clients face.
Beystenher reflects on Freud’s explanation of the main ideas of the psychoanalytic approach to helping the clients to deal with their emotions. Freud highlights the ideology that the id, represents the value of being in an unconscious state, (Freud, 1949, p. 14 as cited by Beystenher, n.d). Additionally, Freud suggests that the id hold the qualities that one inherits from birth and the natural instincts that one possesses, (Freud, 1949, p. 14 as cited by Beystenher, n.d). On the other hand, the ego controls the demands of the id even as one experience the stages of consciousness. In essence, one is conscious of the particular stimuli that connect the external world to the id.
In contrast, the ego responds to the various stimulations as one adjusts to the situation or flees the responsibility of dealing with the emotional issue. The ego allows the individual to lean towards achieving pleasurable activities and deviate from anything that is unpleasant. The superego manages the demands of the id. Freud suggests that the superego is responsible for the limiting the satisfactions of the individuals as it represents the power of teachers, parents, peers, and role models, (Freud, 1949). Clearly, the superego is the conscious level of the individual’s ability to respond to stimuli when faced with societal, racial, and cultural activities, (Freud, 1949, p. 15, as cited by Beystenher, n.d).
The process clearly defines the components of the physical processes under the headings of the conscious, pre-conscious, and the unconscious. One is conscious if one is aware of some ideas for a brief moment. Some individuals experience the preconscious state as one that shows that the individual has the ability to become conscious in any given situation. On the other hand, the unconscious stage suggests that the individual cannot access emotions and ideas directly, but these ideas are recognized, inferred, and explained in the analysis process. Psychoanalytic critics suggest that there are four main types of psychoanalytical literary criticism and the treatment: the author of the work; the work's contents; the work's formal construction; or the reader, (Roland et al, par. 7). Freud sees literary as dreams that embody the expression of the unconscious, and can be regarded at the symbols that represents the unconscious mind.
Cheryan notes that psychoanalysis attempts to uncover the source and elements of the emotional impulses that an individual experiences, (Cheryan, n.d). Additionally, Beystehner classifies the critics of Freud’s psychoanalysis theory into three categories. Firstly, there are the critics who believe that the method of data collection lacked the necessary data to give accurate results, (Cheryan, n.d). These critics dislike the techniques that the psychoanalysts employ to help their patients, (Cheryan, n.d). Grünbaum (1986) in particular postulates that free association is not a legitimate technique of accessing the patients' repression of authentic memories because psychologists cannot accurately distinguish between the guiding questions of the psychologists, (Grunbaum, p. 226, as cited by Cheryan, n.d). Finally, Beystehner postulates that the theory is not scientific as it is difficult to test one’s memory, (Cheryan, n.d).

Types of Problems Theory is Most Useful

The psychoanalysis theory is best suited for treating the emotional and hysterical episode that individuals face. Specialists train to become psychoanalysts in order to offer extensive treatment to individuals. The techniques psychoanalysis must be taught so that one understands the interpretation of dreams, transference and counter transference, and the distinctive challenges that stems from the disorders relating to the self, (American Psychological Association, 2015). The scope of the problems that comes with psychoanalysis connects to the mixture of the selected populations. The theory applies to a number of challenges that humans face as they attempt to adjust to the society in general. Still, the theory is different in a number of ways. Critics argue that the theory gives a systematic rationalization of unconscious processes in the human mind. Much of the studies of psychoanalysis come from the work and interest in child development. The studies investigate the vicissitudes of the different types of attachment and attunement that exists between children and parents and child psychopathology as well, (American Psychological Association, 2015).
Additionally, individuals engage in character pathology or those who are resistant to unconventional types of treatment generally receive an intensive form of intervention for a lengthier time. Psychoanalysis emerges as one of the most outstanding treatments because of the inception of character pathology, borderline personality disorders and other disorders that cripple the disorders that impact the self, (American Psychological Association, 2015). The theoretical and clinical procedures in psychoanalysis make the theory popular even as psychoanalysis continues to address the needs of patients.
Psychoanalysis deals largely with the transference of ideas, the dynamic unconscious and the way they relate to psychological functioning. The type of patients, the characteristics of the patient and the issues of the patient help to determine the use of psychoanalysis to help individuals to cope with their emotional distress. Additionally, psychoanalysis includes the use of empathy, free association, attention to patient-counselor relationship, play therapy, dream analysis and the interruptions of dreams, and investigates the importance of the relationships in the individual’s life.

Strengths of the Psychoanalysis Approach

There are a number of steps that are involved with the psychoanalysis method. Analysts put together the necessary material to allow patients to embrace free associations, dream interpretation, and transfer past experiences as they attempt to deal with their present situation. Secondly, analysts form a hypotheses based on the patient’s history and what is happening to them in their daily lives. One of the strengths of the theory lies in the contribution of psychoanalysis to the field of psychology in the modern world. Although the theory first surfaced over a hundred years ago, psychiatrists and psychologists continue to refer to the tenets of the theory as a foundation to modern treat of emotional disorders.
Additionally, Freud theory is strong because of the empirical support that for his theory in studies such as “Little Hans” and Anna O,’ (Approaches to Psychology, n.d., par. 1). The data that he collected to test the theory was grounded in facts and even emphasizes the experimental support in a number of areas including repression and fixation. Psychoanalysis offered vast explanations to the need for explanation in treatment and this helps the psychologist to better understand the client. The truth is that in order to evaluate the strengths of psychoanalysis, one must look at the simple qualities that create a great theory of personality. These are important to addressing the problems and one can easily apply this to other theories in a practical way. Many theorists suggest that a good theory can withstand the test of falsification and generalization. In addition, a good theory of science serves as the foundation to other theories. Psychoanalysis passes the criteria of a good theory.
One other strength of the psychoanalysis theory that Freud developed the theory in 1856, showed that psychoanalysis is still a valid treatment for individuals who suffer from mental illnesses. The widespread acceptance of psychoanalysis is a clear indication that psychoanalysis held its own through time. Arguably, psychoanalysis enlightened many health professionals about the different aspects of the workings of the human mind. Arguably, one of the greatest strengths in the psychoanalysis theory is that it is a very comprehensive theory, (Beystehner, n.d). Although psychologists first developed the theory of psychoanalysis to explicate psychological or therapeutic concepts, the theory explains the behavior of humans as they develop their mental capabilities. Nonetheless, many psychologists believe that psychoanalysis describes a variety of other concepts.

Weaknesses to the Psychoanalysis theory

Psychoanalysis exists as a form of therapy for many therapists today. There are three categories to Freud’s theory. The first of the weaknesses in the theory is the lack of empirical evidence. The theory bases much of its principles on the achievement of the therapy that is involved in the treatment. Additionally, the theory and the clinical data involved in the theory are inaccurate, flawed and selective as the samples for the tests were selected from specific target groups and not a wide variety of individuals. Furthermore, the specific method in psychoanalysis or Freud's ideas of free association and the interpretation of dreams come under much scrutiny by modern – day psychologists. Critics of the psychoanalysis theory suggest that Freud’s methods are unscientific mainly because Freud based the tenets of his theory on the study of “abnormal” sample of people, and he used the case study method and techniques that were open to bias as they were not totally objective, (Approaches to Psychology, n.d). Finally, much of the experimental research that was carried out on Freudian hypotheses failed to support his theory and ideas, (Approaches to Psychology, n.d.).
Additionally, critics postulate that Freud's clinical data are inaccurate and invalid. In fact, one could argue that the Freud’s case studies do not reflect enough emphasis on the outcome based on the treatment because Freud's aim centered more on the illustrations of his theoretical ideas. In addition, Freud makes careful reference and documentation to his twelve cases, but he refers to at least a hundred minor cases. This point proves the weaknesses in Freud’s theory and made it unacceptable in many respects. Other criticisms of Freud’s psychoanalysis theory arise from the theory. The common belief is that Freud failed use a recorded experiment, a control group, and observation.


There is no doubt that Freud’s theory can be criticized honestly because it failed to live up to the rigorous scrutiny of other theories. Freud's evidence restricts the carefully selected sample of his experiments and not a variety of sample groups. Therefore, there is a lack of empirical data to justify the validity of the theory. Conversely, it is clear that common sense has no place in psychoanalysis theory and this creates room for a number of false or irrelevant assumptions constantly. There are a number of aspects of Freud’s theory that speaks in generalized volumes and clearly they fail to allow for exceptions in the theory. Additionally, the belief that all mental problems arise from emotional issues based on past experiences and sex are over-generalized and cannot be accurate. Nevertheless the weaknesses in the theory do not override the significant strengths of the theory. Therefore, one cannot disregard the theory because Freud developed the theory centuries ago. The reality is that the theory is credible to a great extent and it effectively treats mental illnesses. One can also conclude that psychoanalysis is based on the scientific theory because it is falsifiable. Psychoanalysis is widespread that can be used in many practical ways including its use in substantiating the personality theory.

Works Cited

Approaches to Psychology Viewed at http://socialscientist.us Accessed February 25, 2015
Barthes, Roland et.al Psychoanalytic Criticism The Academy, Viewed at
http://dlibrary.acu.edu.au Accessed February 25, 2015
Beystehner, Kristen M., Psychoanalysis: Freud's Revolutionary Approach to Human Personality
Northwestern University http://www.personalityresearch.org/papers/beystehner.html
Cheryan, Sapna Analyzing Psychoanalysis Peer Commentary Northwestern University Viewed
at http://www.personalityresearch.org/papers/beystehner.html
Patterson, Charlotte, (2008) Child Development, McGraw Hill Higher Education, New York,
Print. ISBN: 13: 978-0-07-234795-1
Robbins, Brent (2006) “Backup of A Brief History of Psychoanalytic Thought -- and Related
Theories of Human Existence” Source: Mythos and Logos Website Copyright: Source Copyright: URLhttp://mythosandlogos.com/psychandbe.html Viewed at http://www.csudh.edu Accessed February 25, 2015.
Sarason, Irwin & Barbara Sarason (2002) Abnormal Psychology- The Problem of Maladaptive
Behavior Tenth Edition, Pearson Education Inc. New Jersey, ISBN 0 -13-0918490

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