Sigmund Freud 18561939

Freud's system of psychoanalysis formed the basis of psychodynamic psychotherapy. During psychoanalysis, in which 50-minute treatment sessions take place 3-5 times a week for several years, the patient talks about past and present events, emotions, dreams, and fantasies, and uses 'free association' to recall repressed or forgotten material to conscious awareness. The therapist's interpretations relate to Freud's concepts, which include the following:

• The model of the mind: the structure of the mind is seen as having three parts: id (inherited, instinctive, largely unconscious, motivated by the 'pleasure principle'), ego (largely conscious, acting according to the 'reality principle' and using the ego defence mechanisms), and superego (derived from introjection of authority figures, and equivalent to conscience).

• Stages of psychosexual development: in each of the oral, anal, oedipal, and genital stages, the libido or sexual energy (asserted by Freud to be of prime importance in all areas of mental activity) is attached in a particular direction.

• Transference: attitudes derived from early relationships are projected onto the therapist.

• Resistance: the patient avoids exploration of a topic which is the subject of unconscious conflicts.

• Ego defence mechanisms: these are unconscious processes to reduce anxiety. They include denial, repression, rationalization, projection, reaction formation, displacement, sublimation, intellectualization, conversion, fixation, regression, and introjection (see Glossary; they are particularly associated with the name of Anna Freud).


• Dreams: in these, the real or 'latent' content is converted into the 'manifest' content by the mental 'censor' through the mechanisms of condensation, displacement, and symbolism.

• Parapraxes: these are mistakes and memory lapses in everyday life that have unconscious significance ('Freudian slips').

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